Project-based learning under Computerised Education in Heat and Power Technology
Introduction The teaching in Heat and Power Technology world-wide (and in most other technical fields) is usually performed in a classical way in which students listen to some lectures and then solve some textbook problems. Some students also select a project of more applied nature, but these are usually fairly small and do not illustrate the complete course work during a full academic year. Mostly the students do not see the relevance of their studies to real engineering problems until after the end of the studies. The Division of Heat and Power Technology (HPT) at KTH approach the problem of teaching the last-year undergraduate students the basic knowledge in Heat and Power Technology in a different way. The students and teachers are involved in a "role play" project during one academic year. A company has been founded which intends to construct a power plant for a specific purpose, and delegates the buyer s role to a consultant who in turn intends to have the students at HPT design the complete power plant during one academic year. This project will be integrated inside the Computerised Educational Program currently developed at the Division (Fig. 1). This project started in 1996 and aims at developing an interactive platform for the teaching of Heat and Power Technology. A CD-ROM is available which offers a number of interactive simulations and multimedia presentations dealing with several fields related to Heat and Power. Inside this CD, the students will find the various reports and presentations made by the students who took the course the previous years (Fig. 2). Fig. 1: main interface of the Computerised Educational Program developed at the Chair of Heat and Power Technology, KTH. http://www.egi.kth.se/compedu/ Fig. 2: Presentation of the Project of Year 1999/2000 inside the Computerised Educational Program. http://www.egi.kth.se/compedu/ Educational Objective The objective is that the students in an independent and engineering way shall apply the acquired knowledge in the heat and power curriculum (and earlier courses) towards solving a real engineering problem of doing the basic design of a power plant, while working in a project-team. The students should learn how to, in an independent way as well as part of a team, find important and necessary information in textbooks, and other material outside of the known textbooks. Course Organisation The students are the persons performing the project. They select themselves the task-leaders for the various tasks that have to be performed. The task leaders are responsible for delivering certain results at specific dead lines, where a Design Review Team (=DRT) will evaluate the results and inform the project participants, with the expertise the DRT members have, about which direction seems to be the most appropriate. A co-ordinator will be appointed who is a link between the students, the teachers, the Design Review Team and the Company. The co-ordinator will have to handle different kinds of problems that will occur during the Project. The technical knowledge the project team will have to acquire in order to solve the various sub-tasks in the project will be presented as lectures at the appropriate time during the whole year. The students will also be able to use the CD-ROM developed at the Chair, which teaches Heat and Power Technology thanks to interactive simulations and multimedia theoretical parts. An extremely good communication link between the students, teachers and the DRT members should be established. This must be computerised in order to save time and so that all participants will have immediate access to all the necessary information. With this aim in view, an on-line discussion group will be set up and all the reports from the previous projects will be available on the CD-ROM developed at the Chair. This is not just another calculation from a textbook. It is a real power plant, which the students have to study. As such there is of course not only one possible solution to the project. The students will thus during the year have to take a lot of 'engineering' decisions which certainly will influence the design of the whole plant. For these, the students will have to come with clear suggestions/recommendations before the Design Review Meetings, so that a detailed discussion can take place and a decision can be taken. The final presentation of the whole project will take place towards the end of the academic year. The project team will afterwards go to the foreseen location and meet a larger group of engineers. During this study trip several other power plants/components manufacturers will be visited.
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