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J. del Val1, A. Riveiro1, R. Comesaña2, R. Cancelos2, J.C. Caamaño2, A. Badaoui2

1University of Vigo, Applied Physics Department (SPAIN)
2University of Vigo, Materials Engineering, Applied Mechanics and Construction Department (SPAIN)
In engineering education, the Master Thesis goal is to combine all the knowledge gained during earlier studies and apply it to a real problem. It is claimed that the Master Thesis is an important part of the learning path because initiates the student into independent engineering work. Often, the student begins these tasks after almost all the previous subjects, and it results difficult to utilize all acquired understanding in one specific work. There is controversy about the convenience of the delay of this maturity test. In fact, the new trends of student based learning promote student independent learning actions from early steps in the education path. Nevertheless, the practical application of these maxima presents some difficulties. While the degrees are well structured into different sub-discipline packets, often the concepts and practical capabilities learned in these subjects keep disconnected. Within the framework of fundamental disciplines, students satisfactory deepen into the subject contents; however, such acquired capabilities are weakly applied to more practical disciplines studied later in the degree. Moreover, these much applied subjects are imparted as disengaged, and hardly reproduce the complex problems that the student is going to face during his performance as engineer. As a result, the learning process is hindered and the students do not optimize the employment of these acquired capabilities because of such strictly classified knowledge.

To enhance global learning and the acquisition of transversal competences, it is required a learning approach closer to actual problems, which can clearly show the interconnections between different disciplines that compose the education plan. In this work, we propose a procedure that combines the benefits of problem based learning with collaborative learning, where cooperation is established between the different subjects along the degree. The particular application presented here interrelate stress analysis, manufacture and laser technology. The practical work comprises of a multidisciplinary approach that raise theoretical concepts and practical implementation of processing by laser ablation, mechanical drilling and stress analysis. A global problem is presented to the students (involving process modelling, experimental optimization and results characterization) within the framework of different subjects. This work discusses the practical implementation of manufacturing process development for small diameter hole drilling; where the options are laser processing and mechanical drilling. The students model the manufacturing processes and subsequently execute the processing parameters optimization by accomplishing the real manufacturing tests. Furthermore, the quality of processed parts is determined by characterization of different mechanical properties, including the generated residual stresses and the drilling behaviour as stress concentration. Such tasks can be developed in groups as continuous and linked practical work in the different subjects. With this procedure, the future engineer gains an insight in the overall product development and overcome traditional difficulties associated to the degree structuration as discrete subjects.