1 HTW Berlin (GERMANY)
2 Bombardier Transportation (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 5579-5588
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2269
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
University-industry collaboration in teaching may contribute to the practical relevance of university education, as well as to graduate employability. However, compared to on-campus seminars, collaborative projects usually require a higher effort from the instructor while offering less certainty for the scheduling and planning of learning. Therefore, they may be most suitable for enriching the learning experience, improving the relevance of the overall education and providing the participants with contacts among potential employers.

This paper presents and evaluates a case study of university-industry collaboration aiming at the above goals. The "Beyond Rolling Stock" (BRS) management challenge was conducted in collaboration between the Hochschule fuer Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin and Bombardier Transportation (BT) between December 2016 and February 2017. The BRS was introduced as a novel form of collaborating with the industry that aims at improving international Master of Business Administration & Engineering students' understanding of complex business problems faced by technology companies, as well as providing them with competencies needed in solving such problems. At the same time, the BSR provided BT with a window to present the company as a potential employer to the attending 16 international Master students.

The BSR management challenge prompted the students, in teams of four students each, to develop innovative ways to enhance the customer experience of a new Intercity train model developed by BT. The students had the opportunity to visit the final assembly of the trains during the project. Each team was expected not only to identify innovative ideas but also to systematically evaluate them and develop a business case around the idea they deemed the most promising. For guiding the work, an online project platform was set up. In addition, the teams had three interactive sessions with BT managers to present their ideas, gain feedback and ask questions.

The BRS project was evaluated using focus groups, which probed the participants’ perceptions of the BRS project with focus on learning outcomes and overall project success factors. The focus group findings were commented in writing by the facilitators so that the participant and facilitator perspectives could be contrasted. In addition, the facilitators contributed their written evaluations of the project.

Through thematic analysis of the data, the paper develops recommendations for educators interested in conducting university-industry collaboration with interactive case studies. The guidance through the case by real company managers provides a significant real-live learning environment with a very high impact factor.

The sample comprises 16 international students (focus group participants) from the Master of Business Administration & Engineering programme at the Hochschule fuer Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin, as well as 4 facilitators from the HTW and Bombardier Transportation (BT). The innovation case study was based on a product of BT. The research is based on thematic analysis of qualitative data generated through focus groups and written assessments.
Experiential learning, university-industry collaboration, Germany.