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Centre for
Engineering Education
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Centre for
Engineering Education


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Project introduction and background information

For hands-on project based education, a structured approach helps students to learn to answer open questions. A seven-phase project approach has been developed in the base course Engineering Design (4WBB0), mandatory for all TU/e Bachelor students. The base of this seven phase approach is found in literature (e.g. Exploring Engineering, Kosky et al.).

In a previous DBL-project performed by OIW at Mechanical Engineering it has been decided to implement this seven-phase approach1 in the DBL projects of the Mechanical Engineering department. The goal of this implementation is to increase the student's ability to attack the DBL projects in a structured way; to learn how to answer open questions with no predetermined single-­right answer.

From a teacher point of view, the seven phase approach is implemented successfully. However, the tools to increase students' awareness of this structured approach still need to be improved. The provided written information may not draw the students' attention and runs the risk of being skipped, since it is not part of the assessment and deemed not necessary to execute the project. As in previous practice, the students may still start each project without a structured approach and without learning to improve their project handling skills. Therefore, we propose to develop two video lectures/movies, which will make the information more approachable and will probably stick better. It can also be used by the tutor during a group meeting.

The first movie will be a general introduction of the seven phases including examples of their use in real problems. This video may also be used as an introduction of a structured project approach to other teachers TU/e wide who are (re)designing DBL or other project based courses and are looking for a general engineering approach on the design or research process. We will also contact the lecturers of the Engineering Design course to make sure that the resulting movie is usable in the base course.

The second movie will contain a more project specific approach. It will show a sample of how the 7-phase project plan is used in one of the DBL-projects at Mechanical Engineering. This sample movie might be an inspiration for other projects. It will serve an example for other, DBL project-specific videos. In this way, we will be able to show the students how the project approach stretches and develops over the different projects.

Objective and expected outcomes

Goal of the project is to produce a set of two short movies/ weblectures to enhance students' awareness of the seven phase approach to design and research projects.

  • A general introduction of the seven-phase project approach in which the 7 phases are explained and illustrated. Testimonials of users are included
  • An implementation of the approach in the introduction of the DBL course Design of a modern trebuchet (4GA10)
  • To enforce the use of the movies, a short online test will be integrated in the course (4GA10) to check the knowledge of the expected project-approach.  

This project will test whether this online information works and is being tested in small scale.

However, other departments are being consulted, so when successful, a broader community can start using the approach.

The project is successful when movies are delivered in time for the use in respectively September and November 2017. Students can be tested on the use of the movies in a test or evaluation. Evaluation/ test results in combination with a student feedback panel should give insight in how the movies are used, perceived and if the content has been processed.

Risk for the project is to manage a timely production process and whether wishes can be achieved within the budget.