Curtin Engineering faculty addresses its students as 'Student Engineers'. There is a subtle but important distinction between an engineering student and a student engineer. It is a challenge to have our students make that distinction, and to engage with the processes of professional engineering practice. This paper reports on an innovative first year Engineering Principles & Communications unit that embeds the acquisition of communication skills in a technically based project. The project revolves around two engineering artefacts: a popsiclestick bridge and a mousetrappowered car. The design and construction of each artefact are conducted by different teams of students - each team designs a bridge and constructs a car, or vice versa. Each team follows proper engineering procedures of process and communication for the design, tendering and production of the projects. Requiring students to work both as designers and constructors introduces them to the different communication requirements of each role. More powerfully, they also portray the role of the clients for each others' engineering project, providing a valuable alternative perspective. Within this technical context the unit also teaches students to write engineering case study reports, give professional PowerPoint presentations on their engineering project, and work in teams. All of the above are principal skills that are essential in the real engineering world. The project has led to significant improvements in students' communication skills, as well as their perceived learning outcomes. It has introduced students to essential lifelong learning skills and has challenged them to become effective communicators, better team players and more professional in their approach to their engineering projects.
|Status||Udgivet - 2008|