A 21ST CENTURY APPROACH TO TEACHING ENGINEERING MECHANICS
Editor: Berg, Arild; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon; Gulden, Tore; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Pavel, Nenad
Author: Smit, Mark Jacobus; Persaud, Stefan Maxim
Institution: Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, department of Industrial Design Engineering, The Netherlands
Section: Design Education for the General Public
In product design engineering education, classes in engineering mechanics are often difficult, unrewarding and unsatisfying for both students and lecturers. Within the Product Design Engineering program at Rotterdam University of Applied Science, a new approach has been developed and tested, leading to significantly higher pass rates and more active student participation, leading to deeper and more lasting understanding of the subject. Based upon field research and present day learning theory, an interactive course line was designed in which students build, test and calculate real-life design problems. By gradually increasing the complexity of the cases given, students gain deeper insight in theoretical basics, skills in calculations by hand as well as computer-assisted, analysing constructions and applying forces. Students learn in an informal class-setting in which they are stimulated to experiment, to measure, to calculate, to check outcomes and to ask questions. A mixture of online resources, frontal teaching, peer teaching, individual coaching and team coaching is being used to create a rich learning environment. In this environment it is safe, even encouraged to make mistakes, learn of them, evaluate and improve. Both slow and fast students benefit from this approach. In this paper, we will assess the bottlenecks in the “classical approach” towards teaching engineering mechanics, describe and discuss the “new approach” and draw conclusions on several factors. Thus,making classes more or less effective in creating deeper, durable understanding of construction engineering in a motivating, challenging yet safe learning environment.