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21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Aaron S. Blicblau* Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

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Presentation on theme: "21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Aaron S. Blicblau* Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia"— Presentation transcript:

1 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Aaron S. Blicblau* Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia * Engineering and Science Education Research (ESER) Group David Richards Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia Undergraduate Engineering Project Work 7 th December 2010

2 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS This work sets out to investigate the possible relationship between project results at first and final years of an engineering course as a method of predicting success. Although first year projects are introduced into the engineering curriculum, major project or research work by the students is not undertaken until they reach their final year ngineeringtechnologies/spaghettibridge.ht ml

3 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS What do we want from the Role of Research Project Work in the undergraduate engineering curriculum Undergraduate research work has been highlighted by the Council of Undergraduate Research, USA, as of primary importance, i.e. “…undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline...”(Elgren, 2006; Prud'Homme, 1981).

4 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Undergraduate project work and research which paves the way for future developments in engineering and influencing research at the postgraduate level. For undergraduate student research, (Brew, 2006) has noted that “the main way students undertake research is when they come into their final year projects.” However, there was little done to encourage research in their previous undergraduate experience, especially in engineering.

5 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS So how can we encourage more Projects as “starter cultures” for research for the Commencing Engineering Student Only one subject in each semester of the first year has a major project or research component. This first year experience is only the beginning of a long and varied path to encourage students to become independent learners. Major project or research component

6 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS If we look at the Proportion of course year of studies as project content we find that “research” or project work is minimal until final year compared with previous years Engineering

7 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Looking at First year projects: they were developed so that students work in groups to design for example a robot for autonomous applications * Eg groups of three students in the planning, design, construction, programming, testing, and debugging of an autonomous mobile robot. Every robot, in competition with another robot, will search a simulated Antarctic landscape looking for particular types of “meteorites” (identified by their colours) and avoid bringing worthless “rocks” (meteorites of a different colour)”. **Implementing a Robotic Design and Build Exercise” R. Andrew Russell, Alireza Bab- Hadiashar, proceedings AaeE 2001

8 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS “There is no real substitute for first hand experience in an engineering-practice environment outside the educational institution” After first year and before final in many cases the students have spent one year working in industry within the IBL programme( Industry Based learning). This industrial experience is seen as a necessary for success in a final year project which is essentially a large scaled problem based subject.

9 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Outside influences, eg IBL, grants, company sponsorship, translate into Project Work or Research in Final Year Division of projects according to provenance

10 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS What type of final year Completed Projects do we have? Title of Research ProjectProvenanceResearchDevelopmental *Ship-Ship Hydrodynamic InteractionsStaff√ *OEE applications: Challenges and OpportunitiesStaff/ Industry√ High Pressure Turbine Blade Performance AnalysisIndustry√ #Probabilistic Modelling of Automotive Body jointsIndustry√ *Thermal prototyping of PCB portioned BCM design concept Industry√ Thermal Insulation panels recycled Polystyrene packagingStaff-Industry√ Air cooled EAF Electrode SealsIndustry√ Crushing of Aluminium FoamsStaff√ *Modelling of cooling system of a passenger vehicleStaff/ Industry√ Application of Differential Steering in Articulated machineryIndustry√ Downhill Mountain Bike FrameStudents√ NA Class Steam Locomotive Front-end AnalysisStudents√ #Modelling of particle separation in a vibrational classifierIndustry/NGO√ Industry based learning *indicates prizes # indicates publication

11 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS And is there a way of assessing the Quality of output from projects? The quality of output from projects is measured by assessment or a grade. In first year it is very prescriptive and numerical. In final year includes a major thesis, and oral presentation and a poster presentation again resulting in a numerical grade. The student results are dependent on their academic abilities ranging across high achievers (the minority), the middle group of average students (similar to the general population) to those who barely achieve a pass grade in the overall engineering course

12 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS These 20 students were a subset of a larger number (approximately 100) of first year students. They were the graduating remaining students who completed the four-year course in the minimum time allotted and who had no major interruptions; they could be tracked backwards! But first we need to examine the influence of early project work; we undertook an analysis of first year results for a cohort of 20 students in the project subjects was undertaken.

13 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS there is a weak correlation between first year results in the first semester, S 1, and second semester, projects, S 2, subjects Comparison of First Year S 1, and S 2, project results It would seem reasonable to expect that students who did well in S 1 would also do well in S 2, but the grades did not bear this out.

14 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS We also then compared results from final year and first semester projects subjects. but the grades did not bear this out Comparison of Final Year and S 1, project results Is it reasonable to expect that students who did well in S 1 and/or S 2, would do well in final year?.

15 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Similarly, there is little or no relation from the second semester project subject with results obtained in the final year project cannot use these results as predictors Comparison of Final Year and S 2, project results

16 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS From informal student discussions, this seems to be due to the subjects being new to the students and consequently they have adapted to therm in different ways. Further, the analysis suggests that there is little correlation between success in the first year and final year projects subjects. This was expected since commencing first year students have had little exposure to independent or group project work, and socially, they are just starting to come to terms with a tertiary environment So what is going on? The two first year project subject results appear to be independent of each other.

17 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS SO what can we use as predictors? Prizes in final year? Penultimate academic results? High Overall academic results? Period spent in industry? Mathematics results-maths is taught in all but the final year? – Ongoing investigation!

18 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS High overall academic results correlate well with high project results. Group work influences the project mark Prizes for projects do not always correlate with high academic achievement

19 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS First year projects are useful as an introduction to group work, basic investigative work, and cooperative learning-but not necessarily indicative of final year project performance. No significant correlation in grades from first year projects to final year projects suitable for prediction of success. Major benefits to students in the first year projects are the learning of teamwork, communication, independent learning skills. Major benefits to students in their final year project are in professional and personal areas, such as improved abilities to formulate and solve difficult problems. Further work is suggested to determine predictors of success in final year projects- capstone projects.

20 21 st Annual AaeE Conference 5-10 December 2010, Sydney Australia: UTS Aaron S. Blicblau Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia Engineering and Science Education Research (ESER) Group David Richards Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia ?


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