Introduction to Engineering as a two-phase course

Introduction to Engineering as a two-phase course

In the engineering program at Reykjavik University we have been developing for the last four years an „Introduction to Engineering“ course for our first year students. In the initial version of this intro course we devoted one week in the middle of the first semester, during which all students worked on a joint project. We called this the „Disaster week“, and the students had to react fast and design a plan on how to cope with a sudden catastrophic event here in Iceland. We felt we should expand this course and take advantage of the structure of the semester at our university, i.e. students take four courses concurrently for 12 weeks and then one course for 3 weeks. This fall semester we are developing an introductory course that is in two phases: first, two days of „brain storming“ early in the semester and then a regular course, „Introduction to Engineering Design“, focusing on computer aided design for three weeks at the end of the semester, in part based on the ideas developed during the brain storming days. In the spirit of CDIO, the two-day part is on conceiving and the three-week part is on designing.

After four weeks into the fall semester the students got a break for two days, and were given the task of designing a bridge across the bay in front of our campus, 400 m across. The theme was that „a bridge is not only a bridge“ - it can be a landmark and serve other purposes than only the transport of people. The students worked in groups of five or six, a total of 42 groups. Initially we introduced the students to a formal method of brain storming, a method each group used in reaching a consensus on the main theme of their bridge. This two-day event turned out to be a success, and when evaluating the event many students mentioned that they liked being able to do something totally different and that they got to know their fellow students much better. The course „Introduction to Engineering Design“ will run for three weeks. For the first week the students learn how to use engineering design software. In the following two weeks they use the software to design something related to the bridge they worked on earlier in the semester, again in groups of five or six students. During this latter part of the course faculty members will meet the groups once or twice a day, as consultants and to provide just-in-time lectures. At the completion of the course, each group will present their design, workbook and a 2 minute video on their work and design.

In the paper we will describe this two-phase introductory course thoroughly and how it worked out, including the student experience.

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

Authors (New): 
Haraldur Audunsson
Ingunn Saemundsdottir
Ásrún Matthíasdóttir
Reykjavik University, Iceland
Introduction to Engineering
open ended project
CDIO Standard 2
CDIO standard 4
CDIO Standard 7
Matthiasdottir, A., Sæmundsdottir, I., Jensson, P., Audunsson, H., Snæbjornsson, J. Th. and Fridgeirsson, Th. J. (2014). Experience of interviewing stakeholders, Proceedings at the 10th International CDIO 2014 Conference, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain. : 
Saemundsdottir, I., Matthiasdottir, A., Audunsson, H. and Saevarsdottir, G. A. (2012). Facing disaster – learning by doing at Reykjavik University, Proceedings of the 8th International CDIO 2012 Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. : 
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