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PROJECT-BASED LEARNING IN CIVIL ENGINEERING TRAINING: IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2012-2013

A. Castro, C. Núñez, I. Valcarce, R. Carballo, P. Fuentes

University of Santiago de Compostela (SPAIN)
Project-based learning (PBL) is one of various innovative educational activities implemented by the Group of Education Innovation in Civil Engineering (GIDEC) at the Civil Engineering Degree for civil engineers training. From the 2nd semester of the 2nd year of the degree, the students have the opportunity of learning by means of the development of a real civil engineering project, in this specific case, a transport infrastructure, which can be either a road or a railway line. The PBL activities begin in the subject Design and Construction of Linear Infrastructures with the realization of a Basic Project of Design, which serves as a basis for developing a much more global project with the collaboration of other subjects of the 2nd semester: Geotechnical Engineering, Hydraulics II and Structures II, in which aspects of the project related to other engineering areas are discussed. The competences of the project corresponding to these subjects must be acquired by the students at the end of the 2nd year and, therefore, the aspects of the project related to them properly resolved. However, the students can continue working on other aspects of the project in other subjects, such as Geotechnical Construction I, Geotechnical Construction II, Road Surface and Conservation, Traffic Engineering, belonging to the 3rd and 4th year of the degree.
The implementation of PBL has proved to be very useful to help students to acquire a more global view of the specific work carried out in the different subjects, and to improve the coordination between the areas of knowledge involved in the project.
Based on previous experiences and the analysis of the difficulties encountered in the planning of the works, the distribution of the workload for students during the semester, their shortcomings for teamwork and in the coordination between professors of different areas, the conclusions obtained and the planning that has been carried out to improve the results are described in this paper, attending not only to the specific skills of the Civil Engineering degree, but also to generic skills increasingly demanded by the employers.