Enhancing Students' Capabilities through International Engineering Project

Enhancing Students' Capabilities through International Engineering Project

Shukun Zhao, Lu Yang and Tingting Zhang

TOPCARES-CDIO (herein referred to as TC) is a CDIO engineering education concept adopted by Dalian Neusoft University of Information (DNUI). This innovative concept has been proved that is the suitable engineering module and methodology for DNUI. TC focuses on allowing students to have an impact on each stage of CDIO.

TC is defined a number of assessment criteria which are used to assess whether the engineering education has achieved the expectation that was initially envisaged. On the basis of these assessment criteria, through projects integrating international component, the curriculum could enhance students’ capabilities through TC program. In this article, we will introduce the two-week cross-cultural engineering education training program offered by School of International Education of DNUI from 2012 to 2014. Participants of the program are front-line development engineers with extensive work experience from leading Japanese companies and fourth-year undergraduate Chinese students. In this cross-cultural environment, a curriculum designed jointly with ITI business incorporating LEGO Mindstorms constitutes a virtual transnational engineering project for every participant.

By utilizing LEGO Mindstorms, the participants work together to achieve the goal in an international environment. They tackled problems and tasks in the process of CDIO in a very active and efficient way. When we refer to the TC indices at the later stage of the project, either the employee trainees or our students have highly enhanced their capabilities defined in TC.

As an international engineering project, it helps the students a lot on cross-cultural communication and collaborations. The capabilities could be graded in four levels according to Hymes and Bachman researches. The first ability is to understand and use a foreign language. The second ability is to respect the differences among different cultures and keep higher degree of sensitivity and acceptance. The students should have the ability to use a foreign language, i.e. the illocutionary competence and the social cultural language abilities. The third ability is to handle all kinds of problems and barriers flexibly in a cross-cultural environment and it is the strategic competence. The last but not least, it is the ability to improve their cultural quality and personalities and enrich their life experience by appropriate cross-cultural communications. While the participants work together, they communicate in English, overcome the cultural differences and deal with various problems in a right manner.

Japanese trainees have had a better understanding of Chinese culture and their experiences have been enriched on the way to achieve the goal in an international environment. While Chinese students benefit a lot from the program as well and they have learned much from the Japanese team members in regard to the attitude of work and the way of thinking. They have realized that it is very important to have a professional quality and good habits being a good engineer. The details and strength of the project will be demonstrated in the paper.

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

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