Impact of Bachelor Research Projects by Design Students
For ten years, the curriculum of the Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) bachelor program at Delft University of Technology contained a bachelor research project. This 8 ECTS course consisted of a
small block of research theory, while the majority was taken up by a practical research assignment. These assignments were provided by individual researchers within the faculty. This allowed students to be introduced into the research of the faculty, while simultaneously allowing researchers to have some assistance in the execution of their own research. This paper presents an assessment of this course, in order to gain insight into the effect it has had both on the research skills of students, as well as on faculty research. The used data consists of quantitative
and qualitative student feedback from the regular course evaluation system. Secondly, an assessment is made of the contributions that these bachelor research projects have had to scientific publications by faculty members. Furthermore, a number of faculty members that supervised multiple of these projects, as well as master students were asked to reflect on the usefulness of the course. Results show that, from the faculty perspective, there has been a clear added value of the course, as faculty members used it to explore research questions on the periphery of their own research, or used the projects as pilot studies for follow-up research. From the perspective of the students, the majority of students questioned in the year of taking the course are positive about the research project. Retrospective reflections with a small group of master students gives a mixed picture, indicating that, if such a course was to be re-instated in the new curriculum, some improvements in the set-up could be made.