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International 2011 Materials Education Symposium

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Maintaining Inspiration into Second Year: An Engineering Design Course Developed and Enhanced over Five Years

Dr Tom Joyce | Newcastle University

Maintaining Inspiration into Second Year: An Engineering Design Course Developed and Enhanced over Five Years

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Retention of engineering students is a concern at many Universities but there may be an over emphasis on first year students. Engineering design is a core subject in many Engineering departments and is greatly valued by future employers. Over five years a second-year engineering design course has been nurtured to focus on developmental projects associated with sustainability which emphasise hands-on learning. Students work in groups, with recent projects focusing on the design of domestic scale wind turbines. The design is taken from concept through manufacture to final testing using a wind tunnel. The commercial and societal relevance of the project is emphasised, as is the need for team working. Each team is given a budget of ?100. Choice of materials is informed by CES EduPack. The majority of the timetable is devoted to laboratory sessions where hand and power tools are available. Assessment methods include presentations, formal reports, ?weekly updates' and individual logbooks. Learning outcomes are based on UK-SPEC. Creativity and innovation are encouraged throughout the design process. Regular assessment occurs throughout with an emphasis on rapid, formal feedback. Student feedback improves year on year with typical student attendance above 90%. The key features which have led to success are allowing students to take a paper design through to manufacture (encompassing the hands-on and ?realistic' aspects of engineering) and trusting in students' creativity. Both areas led to students having a sense of ownership of their learning and developing into professional engineers. Assessment workload for staff is high but is seen by students as evidence of staff commitment to their learning. Students relish many aspects of the module including team-working, the challenge of open-ended projects, competition and the feeling of working as professional engineers.