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[Abstract}]: Reviews of engineering education have highlighted the need for an improvement in student’s teamwork, communication, problem solving and life long learning skills. In addition, students need to learn the foundational skills of mathematics and science required to practice engineering. In particular, they need to apply this knowledge to solving complex engineering problems and reaching substantiated conclusions. To address these concerns many universities are moving, at least in part, to a Problem Based Learning (PBL) In 2001 the USQ Faculty of Engineering and Surveying introduced a strand of four PBL courses. The unique aspect of our courses is that 75% of our student cohort are distance education students, studying across Australia and the world. We have successfully delivered 8 offers of the course on-campus and...
The use of competitive design work embedded in first year engineering experiences (FYEEs) has been demonstrated to be an excellent learning and teaching tool. A well structured design competition enhances the FYEE and improves retention and graduation rates while also providing an excellent vehicle for developing many of the graduate attributes espoused as desirable by employers and accreditation bodies such as Engineers Australia and ABET. An opportunity was seen to exist in Australia to develop a national design competition – a possibility due to relative small number of universities and the national professional and accreditation role played by Engineers Australia. It was essential that any competition would meet all relevant learning and teaching criteria, be attractive to all universities and students and could be sustained into t...
[Abstract]: This paper examines the use of a Learning Management System (LMS) to develop learning communities for students undertaking a Problem Based Learning (PBL) university course. The PBL course is offered to both on-campus and off-campus (distance) students. Students use the LMS platform to undertake team based work, including team meetings, team communications, and electronic submission of team and individual assessments. Statistics have been collected on students’ usage of the LMS, both within a PBL team and by the student body as a whole. This data is analysed, in conjunction with feedback from students, to demonstrate how new communication technology is being used to create learning ‘communities’ in virtual space. Distance students were able to form effective teams using only electronic communication methods. Despite ne...
In this paper, we identify serious shortcomings in the quality of current mechanical-engineering graduates from Australian universities. As a result, graduates exhibit a lack of understanding of: the basic sciences; engineering in the real world; and engineering professionalism. Whilst minor improvement can be achieved within current structures, we are convinced that only major restructuring, involving additional course length, changes in teaching methods, and renewed emphasis on professionalism in engineering, exemplified through the creative design procedure, can begin the transformation from student towards what we have chosen to describe as a `compleat engineer'.
There is an increasing recognition of the importance for universities to develop curricula that fosters creative problem solving and collaborative teamwork skills as a key element of an engineering degree program. The historical emphasis on convergent thinking skills that currently dominates engineering tertiar y education is seen as an imbalanced response to the skill sets necessary for design innovation, both individually and within sophisticated multidisciplinary teams, just when they are needed most. Such skills are highly valued by employers, and their development needs to be actively encouraged and facilitated by engineering educators. The role that synthesis or creativity plays in design is a much overlooked aspect in engineering education largely due to the perception that there is a lack of scientific rigour associated w...
Within complex organizational systems such as Concurrent Engineering (CE) Product Development environments, uncertainty in information, and thus the knowledge required to make effective decisions, strongly influences the quality of the final product. Such systems are marked by high degrees of data variability making techniques such as optimization less than ideal, particularly for multiobjective problem types. Although different methods that enable designers to deal with uncertainty have been utilized, they derive from what appears to be a less than adequate representation of complex system behavior. This article presents a representation for complex systems based on the analogy of immunity where the environment of a system or “nonself” represents the set of input and outputs with the “self” of the system as the resulting “effect...
The advancements in internet technology have had a tremendous impact on the development of knowledge-based engineering systems that support concurrent engineering. Not only the conventional knowledge acquisition and representation techniques need to be improved to adapt the new situation, but the information retrieval and distribution have arisen to be new questions to answer. This article addresses these issues of management and handling of knowledge in a knowledge-based intelligent design system. A search algorithm based on the computation of a similarity index is proposed to retrieve a design case from the project library. An initial design report is used to distribute design information so that the information such as a designer's intent which cannot be included in a standard CAD file, can be retained. In addition, a simple c...
Competitive markets and the advanced needs of modern societies necessitate mastery and successful design of complex products and systems. The design management of complex products is the focus of this article. We pay particular attention to the fact that organizational communication management is central in the development of complex product design. Any template for complex systems design must pay particular attention to the coupling between product, process, and organization structures. This important coupling can be managed through the effective simulation of the product parametric structure. The complex systems design methodology presented is focused on the organizational structure design, such that the complexity and structure of the to-bedesigned product determines the essential interactions of the designers.
Integrated product development requires that decomposition and integration schemes be congruent and in harmony with each other. This harmony marks a product development project with success. In domain of problem solving one needs to resort to simulation based techniques to gain insight into problem structure, its underlying couplings and complexity. The core idea, however, is around the fact that by using an arbitrary complexity measure that satisfies primary criteria of representing the complexity of a graph, general and useful results may be concluded with regard to problem classification. Here, we refer to the problem structure as the self map of the system. Usually for large scale problems the self needs to be decomposed for tractability purposes the structure of the problem after decomposition is the real structure to be dea...
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