Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

International Symposium for Engineering Education, ISEE-08


Engineering education deals primarily with calculating quantitative performance of engineering objects, such as machines, circuits or dams, and with designing variations of these objects. However when engineering graduates enter the workforce they must be able to do a great deal more than solve the technical problems taught in engineering school [1]. More specifically they will need to deal with a great range of problems some of which are not technical engineering problems at all. Examples of such problems include working as part of a larger group, project management, negotiation, component sourcing and an awareness of the multi-disciplinary nature of engineering. Such real-world engineering problems force graduate engineers to draw on their professional and personal resourcefulness, adapt to on-the-job pressure, cope with people problems and broaden their knowledge base. Increased competition and high labour costs put pressure on engineering graduates to contribute to companies as soon as they enter the workplace and reduces the time available to graduates to develop these skills on-the-job. To help students develop real-world engineering skills as part of their engineering education the Mechanical Engineering Department in Technological University Dublin (DIT) three years ago introduced Problem Based Learning (PBL). This paper describes a PBL module for Third Year Mechanical Engineering students at DIT designed to help students refine their soft skills in addition to a deeper understanding of their technical skills. This approach, developed by Kelleher, gives students the opportunity to develop a range of experiences which will prepare them to contribute to their employer on entry to the company.