Project-based education in combination with problem-based learning has been very successful, and has contributed to the popularity of engineering design among students at technical universities. And when the project work addresses real industrial problems, offers insight into post-graduation working environments and gets direct feedback from professionals in industry, students can see the immediate relevance of their education — an invaluable boost to their learning experience.
Students taking MF2004, a capstone course at KTH Department of Machine Design, learn the whole process from idea generation to manufacturing and testing a final prototype built in close collaboration with an industrial partner or a research group at the department. The benefits of using real prototypes cannot be stressed enough — students find out for themselves why a product must be designed in a certain way (e.g. to make it possible to assemble). The course uses project-based learning as a teaching strategy and introduces a model-based design methodology which enables the students to evaluate and “experience” many different behaviors of the product using digital models in a virtual environment. In this way, students can see that many undesirable concepts and flaws can be avoided even before a prototype is manufactured.
This paper focuses on the introduction of the model-based design methodology and evaluation of its impact on learning in a capstone course in the Engineering Design MSc programme at KTH Department of Machine Design. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the effects on the students’ learning, as well as to assess how feasible they consider this methodology to be. On the basis of this, in combination with the weekly meetings with the project teams, we can report a positive attitude among the students and improved learning outcomes.