Abstract: Context: Engineering curricula must develop three categories of skills and knowledge - (i) design and problem solving in complex, socio-technical situations, (ii) the technical knowledge to support the design process, and (iii) the interpersonal skills to support engineering team processes. Traditional curricula, based on teaching the technical knowledge and skills, under-deliver developing the design and interpersonal skill sets. Since at least 1974, several universities worldwide have implemented various forms of project-based learning (PBL), although PBL has not become the norm in engineering curricula as it has in medicine. This university is now embarking on a bold move to implement studios in each of its engineering programs, extending the work of the last three years in developing and implementing the Software Development Studio.
Purpose: The paper provides insight into the processes being used to reconceptualise several engineering programs around a studio spine. Examples will include environmental engineering, biomedical engineering and data engineering, each with a somewhat different approach. This paper explores the nature of studios based on our experience and the key differences that should distinguish them from more familiar forms of project-based learning as they are practised in engineering. Academic concerns are also explored.
Approach: A series of staff development workshops have been held, in which the desirable attributes of studios have been explored. Staff identified key issues to be resolved in the design and implementation of studio experiences for students. Program teams met to consider the big ideas in each program, how these will be assessed, and how each student will tell their own story of career development through their e-portfolio.
Results: Staff engagement in the project teams and in the workshops has been enthusiastic, with each program adopting its own approach to studios including the development of fundamental concepts in years one and two, through the development of core skills in years two and three to the development of specialisation skills in years three and four. Details of studio workshops and the issues raised by staff are reported in the paper. These link to other papers on assessment and e-portfolios at this conference.
Conclusions: There have been many international calls for more engaging and relevant engineering curricula, which develop the full range of capabilities required for engineering practice - design skills, technical skills and interpersonal skills. Further, engineering practice is increasingly complex and engineering education must reflect that. Studios are an effective mechanism for engaging students in mentored, complex problem solving that will develop the full range of professional skills. Several engineering programs are now being re-engineered around a studio core. In parallel, staff development is focused on the conference theme: the changing role of the engineering educator for developing the future engineer.
To cite this article: Hadgraft, Roger; Prior, Julia; Lawson, Justin; Aubrey, Tim and Jarman, Rob. Redesigning engineering curricula around studios [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 300-310.
[cited 29 Apr 17].