Computer-Aided Engineering Education: New Learning Approaches and Technologies

Computer-Aided Engineering Education: New Learning Approaches and Technologies

Chen Kang Lee, Manjit Singh Sidhu
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4249-2.ch019
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The paradigm shift in engineering education in response to the revolution of the knowledge society has created new challenges for education practitioners. The utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to facilitate the teaching and learning in engineering has increasingly raised the interest of the education practitioners throughout the world. In this chapter, the authors discuss the trends and paradigm shift in engineering education followed by the importance and current usage of ICT to support the teaching and learning in engineering. Additionally, the new learning approaches and emerging technologies that have great potential to enhance the learning experience in engineering are recommended. Finally, the authors propose a conceptual framework for the creation of a computer-aided learning environment for engineering education, particularly mechanical engineering.
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In the era of knowledge driven society, changes occurs rapidly throughout the industries and the marketplace. Two main factors that drive the rapid change in the market environment and the society are the globalization and the revolution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Knowledge has played an important role as a sustainable competitive factor for survival in the dynamic marketplace (Anantatmula & Kanungo, 2010; Beijerse, 1999; Bogdanowicz & Bailey, 2002; Chong et al., 2009; Havens & Knapp, 1999; Lin, 2011; Pauleen et al., 2004; Soosay & Hyland, 2008). As mentioned by Drucker (1993), the main challenge in the knowledge-based economy is how to make the information and knowledge productive enough to compete in this constantly changing environment. We are moving towards the era of post-industrial knowledge society where the future will be essentially determined by the ability to utilize knowledge for unique ideas, products and services that emphasize on innovation efforts for competitive advantage. In fact, the shift from material and labor intensive products and processes to knowledge intensive products and services are the unavoidable major trend in the knowledge driven economy (Duderstadt, 2008).

Concurrent with this trend, the demand for skills and competencies increases significantly (Morell et al., 2008). In addition, “nations are placing a high priority on developing their human capital” as the immediate response to the current trend of knowledge driven economy (Delgado-Almonte et al., 2010, p. 140). Furthermore, as identified by the World Bank, in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, “the investment in the intangibles that make up the knowledge base – research and development (R&D), education, and computer software - is equaling or even exceeding the investment in physical equipment” (The World Bank, 2002, p. 8). There is no doubt that education in general and tertiary education in specific plays a critical and major role in the knowledge driven era. Specifically, tertiary education contributes to the growth of knowledge economy through the following four missions (OECD, 2008, p. 13):

  • The formation of human capital (primarily through teaching).

  • The building of knowledge bases (primarily through research and knowledge development).

  • The dissemination and use of knowledge (primarily through interactions with knowledge users).

  • The maintenance of knowledge (inter-generational storage and transmission of knowledge).

In contrast, when any countries lose their base in academic excellence, they will lose the competitiveness in the global knowledge society (Meek et al., 2009). Thus, the shift to a new paradigm of education that expects to foster the development of emerging knowledge economy and the broad knowledge society is a great challenge faced by the education practitioners globally. The next section discusses on the challenges of tertiary education in the context of engineering education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educational Technology: The use of technological resources (include but not limited to any hardware, software or networking technologies) to enhance the teaching and learning experience both in a formal and informal way.

Computer-Aided Learning: The use of computer technologies (hardware, software and / or networking tools) to support / enhance the learning experience.

Multimedia: The combination of at least two or more digital media (text, graphics, audio, video, and animation) to present the digital contents and deliver information for the end users.

Game-Based Learning: The design, development, and utilization of digital games that includes educational values for learning.

Augmented Reality (AR): Mixed realities, i.e. real physical environment’s element is augmented by computer technology to enhance visual experience.

Blended Learning Approach: A pedagogical approach that combines the strengths of e-learning with the traditional teaching and learning practice to enhance the students learning experience.

Engineering Education: The educational studies of engineering that prepare the graduates to practice engineering with competent technical know-how and soft skills at the professional levels.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Digital technologies that involved in the creation/transmission / store / retrieval /manipulation of useful data or information in digital forms.

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