DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: Kaspar, Jerome; Vielhaber, Michael
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Saarland University, Germany
Section: Creativity 3
DOI number:
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


According to recent studies, scientists and trend researchers are both quite confident that changes within the next two decades will be much more extensive and pioneering than the changes during the past 20-25 years. Thus, and having all the emerging technological trends and visions in mind (e.g., artificial intelligence or the IoT platform), the complexity will assume an entirely new dimension within our knowledge-based society. In order to be successful in future, however, engineers or actually young aspirants need to change their learning behavior to overcome these new issues in complexity management. Hence, cooperative and application-oriented learning including an exchange of knowledge and experience is increasingly gaining in importance, especially in view of the abstract and holistic thinking within the field of systems engineering.

To deal with this future complexity but also difficulty, freshmen have already to get in the topic of a systematical and methodological procedure to develop comprehensive product systems. Thus, systems design theory and construction serves as the basis for a prospectively integrated view of product design, material and technology selection. Nevertheless, this knowledge transfer can be extremely tedious. For this reason, our education research include an innovative manner of transferring knowledge in a practice-oriented way within the subject “systems design methodology” for first semester bachelor students.

In doing so, and besides the fundamental knowledge sharing in theory and the regular exercises towards its further deepening, a parallel and term-accompanying practical project about “mousetrap-powered vehicles” is implemented within the lecture in a focused manner. Herein, all phases are discussed from the initial product planning (simplified market, competition, technology, and product analysis), to the task clarification as well as conceptual, embodiment, and detail design (fundamental technical drawings as well as 3D-CAD models), through to a prototypical realization. In this way, diverse physical basics such as motion and energy aspects, mechanical principles, as well as surface and fluid friction are put into context of modifications in design, function or technology, which serves as an inevitable engineering basic. Moreover, on the one hand, the students learn how to work on a future typical workflow of temporary project-based activities coupled with its challenges regarding an agile and tight project management (on-time completion, unassisted but efficient concept development and responsibility, and agreement on joint solutions). On the other hand, and based on the selection of a low budget, but no less complex and visual project task of a prototypical conception of a funky, small mousetrap-powered vehicle, an ultimate weak-point analysis, carried out on the self-constructed engineering solution, enables a further educational process due to well-motivated redesign thoughts driven by ambition.

Based on this partly innovative procedure of knowledge mediation, initially a mousetrap car followed by a boat, glider and - at present - amphibian was/is built by all students as precondition for admittance to the exam. To sum up, and due to the great success and feedback of the last years’ students, this contribution presents the integrated learning procedure based on an appropriate mix between a step-by-step theory and practical “learning-by-doing” approach.

Keywords: Design education, Engineering design, Systems design methodology, Theory and practice


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