Project-based learning is a widely adopted strategy and a preferred pedagogical tool in the undergraduate engineering curriculum. However, design-and-build engineering projects are open-ended, ill-defined, and quite complex so that students often feel quite overwhelmed by the imposed need to solve relatively challenging and practical problems within limited time and resources. Although there are virtually no right or wrong feasible design engineering project solutions, over the years, students’ design project submissions identify a number of students with mediocre design competencies. This indicates that there is a need for developing a pedagogical strategy designed for assisting the students in better preparing for undertaking the challenges of term design engineering projects. Hence, a special series of deliberately designed small-scale “mini” design projects has been developed to serve as “just-in-time” means for building-up the students’ skills required to successfully undertake the tasks of the respective larger-scale term design projects. This paper focuses on exploring this strategy and the different ways of its implementation into the engineering curriculum through three representative core design courses at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, respectively.

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