Part of the 4TU.Federation
4TU.
Centre for
Engineering Education

Project introduction and background information

The vision of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is to educate the engineers of the future able to solve complex and multidisciplinary societal problems. Following this vision, the Electrical Engineering department has developed its educational strategy focusing mainly on strengthening hands-on education by involving students in interdisciplinary assignments.

The course Internet of Things (5XTD0) which has been developed with the help of the support of the 4TU CEE was a 1st step towards creating the required infrastructure and knowhow concerning IoT related hands-on education in the TU/e. The pilot course has turned out to be a success, yet, due to the way it was set-up and due to other recent developments within the TU/e we believe that a follow up project which will build upon the success of the running project can have far TU/e wide impact.

Recently the TU/e has opened the innovation space in the Gaslab with plans to move into the renovated Matrix building in September 2018. The innovation space is a natural place to run the IoT project as it is by nature a multi-disciplinary group activity. The fact that the IoT network was deployed within the FLUX building has limited the possibilities to involve the industry for the sake of creating the student assignment. In addition, studentsā€™ interdisciplinary knowledge and skills was fragmented from a studentsā€™ perspective as the project did not include the full chain of product development. This together with the low participation of students from other departments has constrained the interdisciplinary dimension of the studentsā€™ output, more specifically, regarding product design, requirements and specifications on the interface between human and devices. On-top of this there was a structural lack in logistical support for the course which meant that purchase of required HW and preparation of device prototypes was a rather frustrating and slow process.

Furthermore, the limited collaboration among interdisciplinary teams has influenced the quality of final products designed by students as specific knowledge and skills, supposed to gain in this course, were missing. Finally, since the project contains interdisciplinary content and students coming from different disciplines work together in a team, a different method of assessment to assure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills expected in this course is needed.

The purpose of the project ā€˜Establishing an eco-system for Internet of Thingsā€™(IoT) is therefore to reinforce the interdisciplinary dimension of the project by embedding the design approach of a full chain of product development. To strengthen this dimension, we have the commitment of the Industrial Design (ID) department to collaborate in this project together with the Electrical Engineering (EE, Computer Science (CS) and Industrial Science (IS) departments. The ID approach to design consisting of building prototypes and focusing on having students focus on product requirements and specifications will enrich the knowledge and skills that students will gain in order to fulfil the course requirements. On the other hand, this knowledge and skills gained within an interdisciplinary and hands-on environment requires a different type of assessment. In this regard, we will experiment with peer review among students and eventually, formative feedback from industrial partners in order to calibrate whether studentā€™s prototypes are value for money.

A real eco-system targeting Internet of Things must include the involvement of the industry. In our preliminary discussions with the Program Director of Innovation Space, dr. ir. Miguel Bruns, the possibilities to link with potential industry partners is considered a key requirement for the success of such an eco-system. After discussing our ideas with the Program Director of the Innovation Space and the Program Director with the Management Team (MT), it was approved the implementation of 50% more ethernet ports, power over ethernet and IPV6 support. These requirements have been communicated to the building engineer. There is therefore support to facilitate more courses on IoT as there is a priority to develop an infrastructure for it in the Innovation Space. In addition, within the Innovation space we will be supported to create a business collaboration and discuss potential interest of industrial partners for the projects.

The fact that the IoT project will be implemented within the premises of the Innovation Space facilities in Matrix (as it has been already agreed upon with the director of Innovation Space) is already an asset. We are intending to build the necessary infrastructure and facilities of the IoT in the Innovation Space building. This exciting and innovative space (as well as the educational environment) will stimulate the collaboration between students from EE, ID, CS and IE&IS. Furthermore, industrial partners can be attracted to take part in this eco-system by, for instance, putting forward relevant assignments, and hopefully, involving them in the development of the IoT facility in the innovation space. So far, we have gained again the committed of GENEXIS to be involved in the feedback and assessment of studentsā€™ work.

Objective and expected outcomes

The objectives of this project are:

  1. To strengthen theĀ interdisciplinary characterĀ of the IoT project through the consolidation of activeĀ collaborationĀ among the interdisciplinary teamsā€™ composition from different departments;
  2. To introduceĀ peer review and assessmentĀ as a method to intensify exchange of knowledge, stimulate deep learning and increaseĀ collaborationĀ among interdisciplinary studentsā€™ teams. The guidance of the interdisciplinary teaching staff involved in the IoT project is a key for success;
  3. To develop the facilities within theĀ Innovation SpaceĀ location in order to make them available for the IoT project requirements.

In order to assure an interdisciplinary composition of studentsā€™ project teams we will intensify the contact with the ID, CS and IE&IS departments as the content of this project is relevant to the students of these departments. By doing so, we also guarantee that the interdisciplinary character and collaboration in Innovation Space is emphasized serving these experiences as ā€˜good practicesā€™ for other teachers and courses. Commitment to mobilize students is already gained from ID and IE&IS as well as CS.

This project aims for the following outcomes:

  1. Interdisciplinary collaborationĀ is created among students from different departments. Interdisciplinary support of teachers in building knowledge and studentsā€™ guidance is assured.
  2. Developed an educational approach for the design of the interface between human and devices including a full chain of product development. TheĀ Internet of Things hands-onĀ dimension resembling real-life assignments for industry purposes is strengthened. AnĀ assessmentĀ peer review method is integrated with potential involvement of the industry.
  3. Built infrastructure for the IoT facilities in the Innovation Space location (i.e., Matrix building).

Results and learnings

See attached report. Ā 

Recommendations

Future implementations of the course could rely on lessons learned from this project. Here a list of potential improvements:Ā 

  • Add some more structured teaching of important technical components of the course such as telecommunications and networks
  • Some more attention has to be given to coordinate the tasks among the teammates to make sure the workload is balanced
  • More involvement from our side in breaking down the tasks so that the progress of the groups is more predictable
  • Reduce the ideation part of the entrepreneurship aspects perhaps by involving the companies with their own assignments.

Practical outcomes

See attached report.