Introducing New Engineering Students to Mechanical Concepts through an “Energy Cube” project
Document Type Conference Paper
International conference on engineering and product design education, Loughborough University, England, September 3-4, 2015
This year, the College of Engineering and the Built Environment at our institute inaugurated a new Common First Year design project module that helps inform students in the selection of a specific engineering discipline. Each student, prior to selecting their bachelor’s specialism, completes three group-based design projects: a bridge design project (to familiarise students with civil and structural engineering), a RoboSumo project (involving robotics, programming, electrical and electronics engineering), and an Energy Cube project (introducing fundamentals of mechanical, manufacturing and design, and building services engineering). This paper focuses on how the engineering design process was taught via the Energy Cube. It is geared toward third-level engineering educators who want to introduce a structured approach to design (that makes explicit the critical stages and activities of design). The paper explains how “The Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix”  was incorporated into the Energy Cube project and shows how the Matrix can serve as a valuable tool for design educators. Finally, it presents key observations made by tutors over four separate occasions running the project and the modifications made to improve the students’ experience based on the analysis of class discussions, student performance evaluations, and more than 130 student surveys.