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International 2017 Materials Education Symposium

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Learning materials in context: class projects for companies

Dr Javier Orozco Messana | Universidad Politecnica de Valencia

Learning materials in context: class projects for companies

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Background: Project Based Learning (PBL) has been extensively used for engaging students in real, meaningful problems. The related learning processes develop a deeper understanding which is hampered sometimes by artificial problem design. In order to overcome these limitations the methodology has been put to work with selected companies who provide, not only the information and materials required, but also mentors and the possibility of later participation in internship programs. Methods: Within the course "New materials in Architecture", last year students from Building Engineering at UPV are grouped in 3-4 students teams and are assigned a project related to the design/selection of a material for refurbishing a specific building (or neighbourhood). The basic methodology of PBL has been adapted to group work who performs as an R+D team within the company for solving the specific question presented by the company. During the course the teams apply the theoretical knowledge for designing/selecting different alternatives gathering the required information through the mentor at the company. At the end of the course they have to present their proposals, including a marketing video, to the jury (posing as board of directors) composed by all the in company mentors. Results and conclusions: 89% of the students have evaluated this as their "best" learning experience allowing a great atmosphere for a successful competencies development both at the horizontal and transversal dimensions. All students obtain high grades and there is no need for additional evaluation methods. Drawing on the cognitive sciences and other disciplines, learning engineers are developing deeper conceptual understanding, discovering principles that govern learning, and showing in detail that Universities should avoid superficial knowledge favouring deeper knowledge acquisition. Companies are obtaining excellent proposals at a minimum cost and facilitating the informed recruitment of new employees which is in itself a powerful motivation for students.