Integration of CDIO Skills into Project-Based Learning in Higher Education

Integration of CDIO Skills into Project-Based Learning in Higher Education

M. Säisä, S. Määttä, J. Roslöf (2017).  Integration of CDIO Skills into Project-Based Learning in Higher Education. 11.

In Engineering Education, it is important that students gain competences relevant for the requirements of the working life. Learning environments providing opportunities for active participation and facilitating the intrinsic motivation of the students are important tools when reaching this goal. Furthermore, joint projects with external stakeholders enable universities to develop wider and closer cooperation with regional and international companies in order to help the companies for example with growth, digitalization and internationalization. Small and medium sized companies (SMEs) have lots of potential to grow but they need partners outside their own competence area to help them with product and service development. However, tight economic situation often limits the possibilities to buy these kinds of services from other companies and, thus, there is mutual interest in university-industry collaboration.

In this paper, the focus is set to present a case study on how CDIO skills can be integrated into a R&D project-based learning in higher education. This study focuses on “theFIRM” that is a student-centric learning environment of ICT Education and Research Unit of Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). “TheFIRM” is a student-driven project office that operates like a small company providing development projects to both university internal and external customers. Typical assignments include website designs, small-scale database applications, and end user training sessions. In addition, “theFIRM” participates in several externally funded R&D projects, such as “SparkUp Gateway” and “Inside the Box”.

Most of the R&D projects at TUAS are done in close cooperation with regional and international companies. For example, the main goal of the SparkUp Gateway project platform is to enhance competitiveness, growth and internationalization of the SMEs in Southwest Finland, and to strengthen and diversify the business services of the Turku region and the business development environment by taking advantage of the potential in higher education student collaboration. The main goal of Inside the Box project is to improve the current status of digitalization in SMEs, produce a set of methods that lead into successful digital leap and develop a collaborative service platform to be used by all companies.

The CDIO Initiative has defined general goals to engineering education. That is, the aim is to educate students who are able to: 1) Master a deep working knowledge of technical fundamentals, 2) Lead in the creation and operation of new products and systems, and 3) Understand the importance and strategic impact of research and technological development on society (CDIO, 2010). Students in “theFIRM” learning environment participate actively in many R&D projects. Multicultural and multidisciplinary teams from different universities do innovative work together to meet the goals of the projects and develop a successful change process and increased competitiveness in customer pilots. This approach not only deepens the technical competences but also leads to innovative co-creation with product and service development. In addition, university-industry collaboration helps revealing new insights, and help the networking and creates new and promising joint ventures with national and also international actors.

Proceedings of the 13th International CDIO Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 18-22 2017

Authors (New): 
Marika Säisä
Sanna Määttä
Janne Roslöf
Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland
R&D learning environment
Project-Based Learning
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 6
CDIO Standard 7
CDIO Standard 8
CDIO Standards v2.0. (2010). Retrieved from 
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