Project-based education in combination with problem-based learning has been one of the key factors for the popularity of engineering design education among students at technical universities. The use of industry-connected projects has boosted this popularity still further. To get feedback from professionals in industry is very stimulating and in this way students also get confirmation that their education is related to industrial needs.
In the Machine Design capstone course at KTH Department of Machine Design, the curriculum covers the whole process from idea generation to manufacturing and testing a final prototype. A major part of the course consists of project work where students will develop a product prototype in close cooperation with an industrial partner or with a research project at the department. The benefits of using real prototypes cannot be stressed enough. This is a very efficient way to explain to the students why a product must be designed in a certain way, e.g. to make it possible to assemble.
This means that a major part of the course is using project-based learning as a teaching strategy. In addition, the use of model-based design is introduced as a methodology that enables the students to evaluate and “experience” many different behaviors of the product using digital models in a virtual environment. In this way many undesirable concepts and flaws can be avoided even before a prototype is manufactured.
This paper describes a model-based methodology for product development. It also shows the application of this methodology in project work in a capstone course in engineering design at KTH, and discusses the effects on student motivation and learning.