Some observation on the teaching of engineering design.

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University of Canterbury
University of Canterbury, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
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Satterthwaite, C. A.

Mechanical Engineering Design 3 - the final year course as presently existing in the Department - represents a developed state of that which obtained some years ago. The writer undertook to try to bring into the coursework studies which would exercise engineering interests and imagination as well as appeal to the social service aspects of the profession. Also he considered it important that a major design study should embrace an attempt to design a complete piece of plant, or a system, in detail, and that in so doing at least some topical contact with industry might be contrived. This was not always as successful as could be wished!

Further development of the coursework ought to emphasise the intellectual skills of the Design discipline - but, to do this needs a body of knowledge presently beyond the writer's capability. The course has reached a 'bar', progress beyond which requires a minor revolution of philosophy as well as content.

There are indications that similar changes have been proposed and are in the process of implementation overseas. (These and other references: Wilde, 1981, Crouch, 1981, Wallace, 1981, Lamming, 1981, "Engineering Design Education", Inst, Chem. Engs., "Current Design Thinking", 1979).

Within the provisions of undergraduate curriculum and of time - so much seems indispensible, yet so much more becomes desirable.

There are, possibly, three ways of development waiting to be explored:

  1. A fourth professional year, of "Engineering Practice', jointly with industry and 'Industrial Professors'. Emphasising, Marketing - Design and Management, studies.
  2. Postgraduate, post experience courses in Engineering Practice - especially design centred, once again utilising 'Industrial Professors'.
  3. Research into the Intellectual Process of Design so that a fundamental and scholarly foundation of knowledge of the structure of the discipline may be demonstrated, upon which teaching can proceed.

Towards these ends the writer dedicates these observations.

Satterthwaite, C. A. Some observations on the teaching of engineering design. Technical report no. 30 (1985). University of Canterbury, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
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ANZSRC fields of research
Field of Research::09 - Engineering::0913 - Mechanical Engineering::091399 - Mechanical Engineering not elsewhere classified
Field of Research::12 - Built Environment and Design::1204 - Engineering Design
Field of Research::13 - Education::1302 - Curriculum and Pedagogy::130212 - Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research::39 - Education::3903 - Education systems::390303 - Higher education
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