EFFECTIVE PROBLEMS SOLVING METHODS FOR INTERDISCIPLINARY ENGINEERING STUDENTS IN CHALLENGE DRIVEN EDUCATION

K. Ibwe1, E. Kalinga1, N. Mvungi1, H. Tenhunen2

1University of Dar es Salaam (TANZANIA)
2Royal Institute of Technology (SWEDEN)
The objective of this study was to analyze the effect of distributing problems to masters’ students adopting challenge based learning methodology to solve a real life challenge. There are six MSc students required to identify the challenge in the electrical sector in Tanzania, which directly affect the society and devise means to solve and offer a workable solution. In doing so the students would be partially fulfilling the requirement of their master of science in computer engineering and information technology. In adopting the challenge based learning methodology, students were required to split the challenge onto six problems and divide among themselves. The rule was for every student to prepare a proposal logically linked to the peers for the synchronized final solution. The students were interdisciplinary, engineering and science students. The challenge chosen was power consumption visibility in electrical power distribution network. The challenge based approach is a newly adopted learning methodology to developing countries like Tanzania. Also, noting the fact that learning methods are constantly changing in-line with the advancement of technology worldwide, still the objective is to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Since the use of Challenge Driven Education methodology is currently taken as the most effective in serving the needs of the industry and society sustainably, however, for interdisciplinary engineering students, it is ineffective to randomly distribute problems to students without looking into their areas of expertise. This will result in slow or complete halt of the research process due to lack of expertise of the students in the assigned areas. In this paper, effective methods for assigning problems to interdisciplinary engineering students are presented and discussed. The methods prove to be effective by observing the time students take to conceptualize, synchronize and prepare research proposals for their assigned problems. The scope of the study is limited to the proposal stage for the selected postgraduate, MSc students taking electrical and information technology courses.