Knowledge management: a new educational challenge for student design projects
The need for Knowledge Management (KM) related to product development activities is well established, but its practice and implementation often fall short of professional expectations. This reality check has so far prevented KM from imposing itself as a fundamental topic in engineering programs. This paper reports an ideal opportunity for KM to stamp its worth in an academic environment through a project-based learning approach to product development. A new capstone design project has started this year at École Polytechnique Montreal which is set to be carried out over a period of three academic years. This effectively means that three different student teams will succeed one another to answer the design brief and manufacture the product. One of the greatest underlying challenges of this long-term student design project is the transfer of knowledge between the three student teams. Ultimately, the authors view this new educational experience as an ideal opportunity to test how both KM theory and practice can be introduced to engineering students. This paper therefore presents the preliminary teaching framework used to introduce KM to the students, observations on the choices made by the team to capture their knowledge, and how the lessons learnt from this unique project-based learning experience can nourish an efficient strategy to bring KM awareness in the classroom.