Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
2A: The potential of interdisciplinary activities to foster responsible innovation
Thursday, 07/Sept/2023:
2:00pm - 4:00pm

Session Chair: Guim Espelt
Location: Room 201

2nd Floor - ELISAVA

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2:00pm - 2:25pm


Ross Brisco, Hilary Grierson

Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

Engineering design education has experienced a recent paradigm shift. Online learning was once a novel concept with few universities and courses offered fully online. A consequence of the global COVID-19 pandemic was a shift to online learning as the default for all universities during the period of self-isolation. Pre-pandemic on-campus education considered technologies to support distributed learning as a novel concept, as secondary to in-person education. Now, the engineering design educational community must consider remote learning as equal to in-person learning. We now find ourselves as educators, not with a desire for computer-supported collaboration, but instead with computer-necessitated collaboration now being the norm.

Workshops were conducted with participants of the E&PDE conferences, and members of the Design Education Special Interest Group of the Design Society in 2020 and 2021. The first workshop took place in July 2020 with the aim to determine ‘what the challenges in the Design Education transition to online will be and how to overcome these. The outcomes of the workshop were: four key areas, 12 challenges and six solutions to these challenges. It was clear from this workshop that there were gaps in knowledge in terms of how to overcome challenges. Those involved in this transition did not believe the pandemic would have a huge impact on engineering design education and the community had little experience in taking emergency measures to get online quickly whilst still delivering high-quality material.

The second workshop took place in early September 2021 after the community had experienced one year of teaching fully online. This time, 19 challenges were identified and 16 solutions to these challenges. By comparing the outcomes of the workshops, we can better understand the gaps in knowledge of engineering design educators before and after the first year of online learning, and the innovative solutions created to overcome these challenges. This paper will share the engineering design practice changes reported by the participants of the workshops that will be useful to others who are developing online content.

A third workshop was conducted in late September 2021 developing upon the outcomes of the first and second workshops, in which participants were asked to take the challenges and solutions and to map these to a university timeline for students. This timeline proposes to support the planning of educational interventions to overcome common challenges and opportunities for online learning. The value of the timeline is in supporting others who are now engaged in online or hybrid learning, as a permanent change to their teaching practice, or as a framework, if a rapid change to fully online happens again.

2:25pm - 2:50pm


Rod Valentine, Jason Matthews

University of Bath, United Kingdom

The aim of this paper is to appraise the use of digital technologies in the teaching of design. The continuing growth of digital technology in industry is difficult to ignore with, for example, the growth of digital twins projected to reach $125 billion by 2030, so the inclusion of such technologies would clearly give currency to any mechanical engineering degree course.

The focus here is on the design teaching in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses at two universities, to compare and contrast usage of digital technologies. However, whilst such technologies equip students with skills that are valuable in industry, and therefore, also on placement, they need to be carefully planned into the teaching delivery. recent enrolments are on the increase, so cohorts are into the hundred which also has financial implications. Furthermore, the current design curriculum is already challenging for the cohort to meet, because whilst the new intake is typically analytically skilled it is less so in design and technology, and this creates a steep learning curve.

One of the current design group projects requires students to create a fully functioning mechanical assembly complete with CAD drawings, manufacturing data files and a bill of materials. So, this seems a natural place to consider digital technologies and how they how well they reflect in industrial practice particularly because the students’ machine is manufactured and assembled, and the manufacturing industry has high growth in this sector. That said, a wider view is proposed from a comparison across two universities teaching mechanical engineering design.

2:50pm - 3:15pm


Alejandro Lozano Robledo1, Juan Antonio Islas Munoz2

1University of Cincinnati, USA; 2University of Montreal, Canada

For the past century, cities evolved around car-centricity, where cars existed in uni-disciplinary isolation from urban planning in unchanging street layouts. Recently, urban planners and new paradigms are transitioning cities away from car-centrism to enable inter-modal streets for vehicles that exist today (e.g. bicycles, e-scooters, cars). Simultaneously, new types of vehicles are being designed for future cities, particularly in micromobility, which must be considered as new street layouts are designed. Therefore, new tools to communicate design concepts are required to ensure a multidisciplinary approach between mobility designers and urban planners.

In mobility design, to develop vehicle concepts, students traditionally use digital (CAD) and physical prototyping, with virtual and augmented reality (AR and VR) levels recently emerging. These design concept prototypes have different degrees of fidelity, lower early in the process (e.g. small-scale appearance models or full-scale functional mock-ups), while progressively becoming more faithful to the final design (e.g. full-scale appearance models), particularly when creating the final showcase of the design concept.

In academia, final mobility design showcases traditionally consist of vehicle-centric presentations where student designers prepare a verbal explanation, while audiences (usually other mobility designers) play a spectator role. The presentation consists of large posters and/or on-screen slide shows (including images, text, and animations), which can include a physical prototype (small-scale high-fidelity appearance model or low-fidelity full-scale mockup). Moreover, audiences are limited to 2D graphic and 3D physical off-scale representations of the vehicle concept with little context. After the presentation, they provide feedback, mostly addressing the vehicle’s design.

VR prototypes are emerging for final showcases in mobility design education and allow audiences to transition from spectators to active participants, capable of experiencing aspects of the concept like materiality, user-interactions, and urban context around the vehicle. However, the lack of physicality of this prototyping level can be disorienting because of issues with scale, position, and visibility of the real environment and people. Thus, the low-fidelity physical level is often preferred over the virtual, even when higher-fidelity aspects of the design and the urban context are lost. AR serves as a bridge where the physical mockup audience members are sitting on, matches the environment they can see and touch through the AR cameras, and has VR geometry and interactivity overlayed on top, essentially creating a multi-level prototype experience. This approach also allows mobility designers to showcase their vehicle solutions and planners to contextualize the built environment in a seamless transition between both disciplines.

Even though existing prototyping methodologies intend to bridge the physicality and virtuality of design concepts, none use the multi-level prototyping approach of AR (low-fidelity) in addition to VR (mid-fidelity) and 1:1 physical (low-fidelity) to showcase final design concepts to multidisciplinary stakeholders. This paper uses the case study of the final showcase of a Future Mobility Design Undergraduate studio focusing on micromobility. Two student micromobility concepts are demonstrated, and the findings are concluded based on the testimony of stakeholders in the AR/VR and urban development industries, who attended the event and tested the experience.

3:15pm - 3:40pm


Anette Heimdal, Ingrid Lande

University of Agder, Norway

To develop the employees for the future we need to address the students of today. According to the World Economic Forum there are four types of skills that are needed for the jobs of tomorrow; problem-solving, self-management, how to work with people, and technology use and development. The Norwegian government states in the white paper “Education for restructuring – increased working relevance in higher education” (Meld. St. 16 (2020-2021)) that to prepare the students for the jobs of tomorrow the educational institutions need to decrease the gap between the academics and the industry. Consequently, the educational institutions need to increase the work relevance in the courses taught in the study programs.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did a study in 2018 to investigate how students managed the transition from student to employee. The study concluded that Norwegian higher education prepared the students for the industry. However, the same report stated that the Norwegian higher education lacks work relevance in their study programs.

The white paper “Education for restructuring – increased working relevance in higher education” (Meld. St. 16 (2020-2021)) solely mentions internship as a work relevance, but also encourage study programs to find other ways of introducing work relevance in higher education. “Internship in Higher Education” points out challenges in implementing internship programs, such as diverse expectations, the required competencies to establish professional practice, inadequate resources from universities and students who struggle to secure a suitable internship experience. The Civil Engineering Department at the University of Agder have made various attempts to increase work relevance. Despite this, the students still rate the work relevance relatively low. Hence, this paper investigates what the students consider to be work relevant in their study, and what the students believe the study program could improve to better prepare them for the industry.

Two surveys were distributed in the beginning of October 2022 to all the bachelor and master students in Civil Engineering at the University of Agder: one for the bachelor students and one for the master students. The result from the surveys indicates that the students find many of the courses and the design of the lectures to be work relevant. In addition, they rated the various measures of work relevance in their study, such as normal lectures, exercises, exams, laboratory work, project work, internship, software, small talk with lecturers and fellow students, excursions, and guest lectures. The students rated the measures from 1, meaning highly irrelevant, to 5, highly relevant. As expected, internship scored most ratings of 5 (63%). However, when we included the scores 4 (relevant) and 5 (highly relevant), the measure that was rated highest by the students was not internship. Interestingly, excursions (88%), laboratory work (82%) and projects (81%) scored higher than internship (79%). Internship can be difficult to organise for some study programs as it usually involves a considerable degree of effort and time. These findings could help study programs to improve their work relevance without going to the extent of implementing internship.

3:40pm - 4:00pm

Problem based Learning through Design Thinking to strengthen education in South Asia

Shakuntala Acharya1, Apoorv Naresh Bhatt2, Amaresh Chakrabarti2

1Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India; 2Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an “instructional (and curricular) learner-centered approach that empowers learners to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop a viable solution to a defined problem”, in which students learn through “facilitated problem solving that centers on a complex problem that does not have a single correct answer”. Literature reports that it has profound implications on the motivations of the student to learn, and can be widely used to support several domains, as it is known to help develop various top skills, such as, critical thinking, complex problem- solving, self-learning, collaboration and communication skills, necessary for young graduates to be industry-ready and responsible innovators.

This paper investigates the current undergraduate education scenario – at the global and local level, through secondary and primary research, and highlights the policies and challenges in the face of implementation of the same, due to varied structure of autonomy, as well as resource availability, which is a big constraint in the region.

Technical education offered by South Asian Universities, particularly at undergraduate level, remains didactic, teacher-centric and contextually disconnected from the issues and challenges of the region, in turn, making the fresh graduates poor in skills needed to be industry-ready. In addition, the members of faculty too, struggle with inculcating real-world issues and problems into practical experiences for students due to course loads, lesson plans and lack of training in more appropriate pedagogical approaches. However, the region recognizes the need to bring in reform into the current education system, and countries like, India, Nepal and Bhutan are in a transformative phase; trying to imbibe creativity and competence while instilling cultural identity and sensitization to sustainable development goals (SDGs), through their new education policies. Problem based Learning (PBL) is one such approach, and has been reported to develop various top skills, as identified by the World Economic Forum.

The practice of finding and solving ‘wicked’ problems, i.e., real-world, complex, and uncertain; creatively, so as to have a positive social impact has always been a designerly pursuit, and the key contribution of this paper is to showcase how Design Thinking can be used as a strategy to inculcate PBL into undergraduate education. A collated view of the PBL process, with stages, defined roles, and general guidelines for problem formulation is proposed; based on the empirical findings, from several case studies and workshops, that the South Asian universities require resources that help in practical implementation of the approach. This paper also presents a literature review on the historical development of PBL pedagogy; its definitions, characteristics and learning approaches; comparison with other approaches, such as, project-based and case-based, and its effectiveness in terms of measures and metrices; and discusses the classification of ‘problems’, its types and attributes, and the importance of identification and formulation of the ‘right’ problem to have the right impact with respect to SDGs.

Presently, the same is being compiled into a handbook for easy reference and dissemination, and future works entail the evaluation of its effectiveness.

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