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This paper will describe an experience carried out with an heterogeneous group of seven 1st and 4th year students of Industrial Engineering of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). It consists in a collaborative project whose outcome will be the design of a practical session with a gas turbine for 2nd year students of Thermodynamics, to be included in the 2010-2011 course programme.
It is an example of the work that the Termodinámica Aplicada a la Ingeniería Industrial group of innovation in education, GIE-TAII, is carrying out to adapt to the Bologna Declaration ideals. GIE-TAII wanted to develop a completely student-centred activity, which would foster flexible, work-based learning and part-time study, directly in line with the Leuven Communiqué of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education of April 2009. The Group also wanted the results of the activity to help the teaching of Thermodynamics in future years, by bringing it closer to the Bologna objectives.
The full experience was planned in the following way:
First, this course (2009-2010), a selected group of students with grants for academic excellence, design an experiment with a laboratory gas turbine (ELGT). The group is formed by two 4th year, seniors and five 1st year juniors. It is split for some activities in two teams, each coordinated by a senior member. Their work is then debated, put in common and tried in the actual gas turbine under the supervision of the tutoring teachers.
Second, the ELGT resulting from this year's experience would become part of the Thermodynamics course from academic year 2010-2011, in the form of a practical session.
The 2009-2010 stage has specific objectives:
1.Enhancing the education the participants: They are given the chance to explore and work with an instrumented gas turbine similar to those found in industry.
2.Fostering development of personal competences: The participants are required to work in teams, debate technical and organizational issues, present their work to the teachers and seek for knowledge. The two senior students are given the chance to use their experience to guide and coordinate teams.
3.Grounding technical knowledge: The chance to explore and manipulate real equipment allows senior students to ground a wide collection of concepts acquired from the subject of Thermodynamics as well as in others. Junior students have the chance of grounding elementary notions such as energy, force, power, etc.
4.For tutoring teachers and the GIE-TAII: The experience will provide insight into the target students for 2nd year Thermodynamics, essential for developing student-centred teaching. The first results of the experience have shown: 1. The specific vocational interests with which students initiate engineering studies, 2. Their specific conceptual lacks and how they affect their practical reasoning, 3. The point of view from which they approach theoretical concepts.
The 2010-2011 stage will be directed to a much larger student population (approximately 550 per academic year). Thus it will serve mainly objectives 1 and 3. The GIE- TAII Group intends to enhance it with surveys in order to progress also in objective 4.
In summary, this paper will present results of an experience aimed directly at providing future generations of students of engineering with student-centred learning, in line with the EHEA ideals.