CDIO seminar: Towards agile, interdisciplinary and individualised engineering education - Streaming available!

Thursday, October 17, 2019 -
09:30 to 15:00

CDIO seminar: Towards agile, interdisciplinary and individualised engineering education

The seminar will be streamed from:

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Engineering education has traditionally been delivered in long, discipline-specific programmes such as mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. This setup has been successful for almost 200 years but is challenged in today’s situation where students need to be better prepared for addressing transdisciplinary problems in, for example, sustainable development, automation and sports technology. In addition, the fast pace of technology development requires frequent updates of educational content, not easy to combine with the 4-5 year change cycle of current engineering curricula. Furthermore, today’s students are expecting an education that enables a high degree of individualisation.

The seminar aims to present and discuss novel agile, interdisciplinary and individualized curricular design approaches with particular relevance to CDIO education. How to ensure stakeholder engagement, how to establish and maintain a change culture and how operate these models for large student groups are among the topics to be focused.

The seminar will provide an opportunity to learn insights from some leading experts in the area and to share knowledge and experiences with other CDIO educators.



09:30 - 10:00, Registration

10:00 - 10:15, Welcome to Chalmers, introduction - Johan Malmqvist

10:15 - 11:00, TRACKS: An initiative for change, flexibility, interdisciplinarity and creativity in engineering education - Kristina Henricson Briggs and Mikael Enelund

11:00 - 11:45, Experts in teamwork at NTNU - Björn Sortland

11:45 - 12:30, Lunch

12:30 - 13:15, Development of an entrepreneurship culture in a research focus university - Clément Fortin

13:15 - 14:00, Curriculum changes towards agility and flexibility - Suzanne Brink

14:00 - 14:30, Panel discussion

14:30 - ,Wrap up & coffee


Keynote speakers
​Confirmed speakers from Chalmers University of Technology, the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

Bjørn Sortland is associate professor and head of Experts in Teamwork at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. He is M.Sc. in Marine Technology, and holds a Ph.D. degree in Marine Technology. For his whole career, he has been working on experienced based and interdisciplinary educational development. He has been the head of Experts in Teamwork since 2002, and expanded the course to include all faculties at NTNU according to a decision made by the board of the university.

Experts in teamwork at NTNU (Bjørn Sortland)
Presentation of the course by Bjørn Sortland, head of Experts in teamwork at NTNU
He will give a brief presentation of the Experts in Teamwork course at NTNU, and fasilitate a conversation related to the challenges in developing interdisciplinary education.
NTNU’s Experts in Teamwork course is compulsory in all master’s programmes and programmes of professional study at NTNU and is offered to 2,500 students each year. About 100 members of the teaching staff are involved, and 200 learning assistants are employed each year. 
In Experts in Teamwork, students develop teamwork skills by reflecting on and learning from specific situations of cooperation in carrying out a project. Students work in interdisciplinary teams with participants from diverse programmes of study. Interdisciplinary teamwork is used to develop students’ cooperative skills. The purpose is to improve project work. Relevant problem areas from society and working life form the starting point for this teamwork.



Kristina Henricson Briggs has a PhD in entrepreneurship and works with educational development within Chalmers. Focus has previously been on entrepreneurship and currently as the Vice Director of Tracks, a ten-year long investment by Chalmers´ foundation in the education at Chalmers.

Mikael Enelund is a Professor in Structural Dynamic and Dean of Education.  Mikael is also Director of Tracks, a ten-year long investment by Chalmers´ foundation in the education at Chalmers. Mikael has a strong background in teaching and engineering education developments including curriculum and learning environment designs.

An initiative for change, flexibility, interdisciplinarity and creativity in engineering education (Kristina Henricson Briggs and Mikael Enelund)
It is well known that engineering educations need to be renewed and developed to meet the needs of society and presumptive students. There has been a rapid development of technology and the educational programs have historically not been able to embrace and use this fully. Further, we need to prepare the students to tackle complex societal challenges which call for reformed educations. Moreover, engineering curricula need to be more flexible to meet future students’ expectations of individualized educations.  At the same time, change to a more flexible and interdisciplinary curriculum is challenging as universities traditionally have inherent inertia and resistance to change with disciplinary department based hierarchical organizational structures and inflexible career paths that promote disciplinary qualifications.

Tracks is a ten-year Chalmers initiative to create flexible, interdisciplinary paths for students from all programs and disciplines. The Track initiative crosses educational programs, departments and schools allowing students to take courses focusing on inter- and cross-disciplinary societal challenges as well as current research challenges. The purpose is to create and test a new educational model where the structure of the education is developed to

  • give students the opportunity to create inter- and cross-disciplinary competencies,
  • meet the students' expectations and need for a more individualized study plan and
  • shorten the lead times for changing the education offer to include new technologies and new materials.

The new educational model is based on the creation of tracks with different themes lying between existing programs not belonging to a specific department or school. The idea is to create individual and flexible study opportunities by introducing Track-courses within the themes. These courses are optional and address specific challenges.  The students in Tracks will solve complex challenges together with students from other programs and disciplines. A Track-course belongs to a theme, and more courses are included in the same theme are available in the same or the following study year.  In this way, each theme forms an optional "track" with at least one Track-course per year. Currently, there are three Tracks themes in a first pilot; Sustainable Transportation, Health & Sports Technology and Artificial Intelligence. After the first pilot, the concept will be evaluated, refined and expanded to more themes and courses and we will bring forward experiences and knowledge from the development process and the pilots.

Tracks also include a large investment in Chalmers' learning environment. In order to meet the needs of the Track-courses, Chalmers shall create a prominent and flexible learning environment in which you can form project spaces both physically and digitally through a high degree of interaction with industry representatives and other parts of the society. A modern work environment is also needed, for example with computer resources for machine learning and artificial intelligence, AI. Other examples are lab and hybrid virtual-physical environments where students can model, build, test and evaluate prototypes, as well as open creative areas for group work and informal spaces for meetings etc.


Suzanne Brink has a Masters in both Industrial Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology and Educational Sciences from Leiden University. She is a senior lecturer in Industrial Design Engineering at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, and a PhD researcher at Leiden University in curriculum innovation to facilitate student talent development and decrease underachievement in higher design education. She has experience with conceiving, designing, implementing and operating flexible curricula in practice and has organised multiple workshops on this topic.  

Curriculum Changes towards Agility and Flexibility (Suzanne Brink)
To ensure education that anticipates and meets the needs of a rapidly changing world, one of the curriculum changes increasingly seen in higher engineering education is curriculum agility. Mapping the wide variety of curriculum designs in Europe shows that currently the prevailing curriculum structure is a fixed curriculum with flexible elements, focused on theory with skills woven in. But the second biggest group is more agile with a flexible curriculum with fixed elements, focused on skills with theory woven in. An agile curriculum is responsive and adaptable to changes in societal, industrial, as well as student characteristics and needs, by having the capacity to change structures including learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment in a fitting and timely manner. This session addresses the principles of such an agile education, its relationship with the CDIO standards, and the challenges how to get there.


Clément Fortin joined Skoltech in Moscow in 2014 first as Senior Advisor to the President and he is serving as Associate Provost in this new international university founded in collaboration with MIT. He has been the Director of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at École Polytechnique de Montréal from 2005 until 2010 and a Professor in this institution since 1987. He was very active in curriculum reform at École Polytechnique during his academic career. From 2006 until 2010, he was Co-chair for the Americas, of CDIO (Conceive —Design —Implement —Operate), an initiative born in the Aero/Astro department of MIT that proposes an innovative educational framework for educating the next generation of engineers.  He also led the development of a new Aerospace Engineering Program, in collaboration with Bombardier Aerospace. In his research work, Clément Fortin has worked extensively in the field of advanced manufacturing and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), particularly in computer aided geometric tolerancing, integration of design and manufacturing, computer aided process planning, product and engineering systems development methodologies, high performance machining and geometric error corrections of 5-axis machine tools. From some of his research work, Clément founded and led Polyplan Technologies Inc. The company developed an innovative PLM solution for concurrent engineering support the collaborative definition of processes for complex products and systems while efficiently integrating PLM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. The application is now part of the PTC Windchill platform which has been implemented in many manufacturing companies worldwide. He is a member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and was also selected as a Research Fellow of Pratt&Whitney Canada for his contributions to the field of PLM. In June 2015, he was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus for his exceptional contributions to Polytechnique Montréal. From 2010 until 2014, Clément Fortin was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Consortium for Research and Innovation for Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ). CRIAQ is open-innovation  research consortium dedicated to the development of collaborative research projects aiming to enhance the competitiveness of the aerospace industry and the technical and profession-al skills of tomorrow’s researchers. All CRIAQ research projects are university led and included a minimum of two universities/research lab and two companies. The CRIAQ model has made a very significant impact on the R&D level in universities and aerospace companies in Canada and is recognized in a number of countries for the excellence of its open-innovation model.

Development of an entrepreneurship culture in a research focus university (Clement Fortin)
Skoltech was founded in 2011 based on the CDIO principles in collaboration with MIT and it has grown quickly since. It recruits its Master’s and PhD students from a wide spectrum of science and engineering disciplines and has developed a number of program characteristics to instill an entrepreneurial spirit into its graduates. As an example, the Innovation Workshop, which is an intensive one month long entrepreneurial bootcamp, must be taken by all Master’s students at the beginning of their studies. Various aspects of its programs at both the Masters and PhD levels will be described and lessons learned based on the current development will be discussed.


Target audience
- Teachers in CDIO programmes
- Educational leaders
- Engineering education scholars with a particular interest in problem-based learning and CDIO

Link to registration

More information will follow shortly.


Chalmers tvärgata 4C Virtual Development Laboratory
SE-41296 Gothenburg
Contact name: 
Johan Malmqvist
Contact phone: 
+46 31 772 1382
International conference: 
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