TEACHING-LEARNING MODEL BASED ON THE DESIGN OF DIDACTIC EQUIPMENT FOR LABORATORY PRACTICES IN ENGINEERING SCHOOLS
The Bologna process, since 1998 and 1999 with the Declarations of the Sorbonne and Bologna (, ), has promoted changes in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) which have modified the classic teaching-learning models of the academic world. One of these changes gives more importance to the autonomous work and the practical training of students. This purpose is in line with what the famous pedagogue Robert Schank  says: “learning by doing”, who states that learning happens when somebody want to learn, not when somebody want to teach.
Unfortunately, an economic crisis appeared in Europe during this process, and as a consequence of it, less economic support came to the universities of Europe. Therefore, when funding was more needed in the universities to implement the new methodologies proposed by the Bologna process, paradoxically the universities had less money because of the crisis.
Under these circumstances, the School of Industrial Engineering of Toledo (SIIT) decided some years ago to implement the methodologies proposed by the EHEA without spending too much money. But this required a great effort of the teachers and students. It was as well as the teachers of the Automatic Control Department thought a teaching-learning methodology based on the design of didactic equipments made by the students themselves. Since 2010 some engineering senior students, in their Grade Final Projects (GFP), have designed didactic equipments in order that these equipments can be used in some courses of the SIIT. Some of these equipments are: a laboratory mini hidrolectric plant ; a mini laboratory servomotor; the ball and beam system; some robotics platforms…
Some of the advantages of this methodology are listed below.
For engineering senior students who design didactic equipments:
• To implement the skills (competences) acquired in the Engineering Degree.
• To acquire skills related to practical and autonomous work.
• To do something that will be used for future students is a motivation.
• To design something to be used in a subject that the student knows well.
For engineering junior students:
• To acquire skills related to practical and group work.
• To do laboratory practices with didactic equipments made by senior students is a motivation for them.
• To have a line of GFP related to the design of didactic equipments that will be used in some subjects of the School.
• To evaluate the skills of the students when they work with experimental equipments.
• To offer practical-experimental GFP to senior students.
• To have low cost didactic equipments for some subjects of the School.
On the other hand, the designed didactic equipments have the following characteristics:
• Low manufacturing cost.
• Low energy consumption.
• Easy maintenance.
• Friendly graphical user interface.
• Modular design to be easily disassembled.
• Safe for users.
 The Sorbonne Joint Declaration. Joint declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European higher education system by the four Ministers in charge for France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Paris, the Sorbonne, May 25 1998.
 The Bologna Declaration. Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education. Bologna, June 19 1999.
 I. Payo, F. Del Castillo, J. Jerez, L. Sánchez. Design of a laboratory mini hidroelectric plant for educational purposes. Edulearn12 Conference. 2012 Barcelona, Spain.