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Group design-build-test projects as the core of an integrated curriculum in product design and development

Author(s): Paul Hermon | Charles McCartan | Geoffrey Cunningham

Journal: Engineering Education
ISSN 1750-0044

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 50;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: curriculum design | curriculum development | CDIO | engineering education research

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast introduced a new degree programme in Product Design and Development (PDD) in 2004. As well as setting out to meet all UK-SPEC requirements, the entirely new curriculum was developed in line with the syllabus and standards defined by the CDIO initiative, an international collaboration of universities aiming to improve the education of engineering students. The CDIO ethos is that students are taught within the context of conceiving, designing, implementing and operating a product or system. Fundamental to this is an integrated curriculum with multiple design-build-test (DBT) experiences at the core.Unlike most traditional engineering courses, the PDD degree features group DBT projects in all years of the programme. The projects increase in complexity and challenge in a staged manner, with learning outcomes guided by Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains. The integrated course structure enables the immediate application of disciplinary knowledge gained from other modules, as well as development of professional skills and attributes in the context of the DBT activity. This has a positive impact on student engagement, and the embedding of these relevant skills, identified from a stakeholder survey, has also been shown to better prepare students for professional practice.This paper will detail the methodology used in the development of the curriculum, the refinements that have been made during the first five years of operation, and will discuss the resource and staffing issues raised in facilitating such a learning environment.
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