Effectiveness of Problem Based Learning for Engineering Curriculum

Effectiveness of Problem Based Learning for Engineering Curriculum

J.I. Rojas (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain), X. Prats (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain), A. Montlaur (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain), M. Valero (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain) and E. García-Berro (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-779-4.ch017
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Abstract

The main purpose of this case is to describe the process by which an initially limited-range practical experience, within the frame of a given course in an aerospace engineering degree, might be expanded to become the mother-course itself. Particularly, the practical experience is a Model Rocket Workshop (MRW), where students design, simulate, build, test and launch a small model rocket. The workshop is a Problem Based Learning (PBL) experience that covers a wide spectrum of educational aspects, ranging from theoretical disciplines, such as fluid dynamics and rocket dynamics, to topics more related to experimental work and hardware utilization like the certification of the rockets, as well as the rocket altitude measurements. Students get rapidly involved in the project, and acquire several practical and transversal abilities, while developing a solid knowledge of the physics underlying aerospace engineering. The case study shows some problems and improvements, academic results and lessons learned from the PBL approach. Finally, a series of new ideas related to MRW and to the course it belongs to are presented. The objective is to expand the MRW so that it embraces the totality of the activities that constitute this mother-course. As a consequence, the former would then become a new course entirely based on PBL. The strategy aims at enabling an optimum transition from conventional learning to PBL.

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