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Nowadays, the European higher education space is concerned, not only about the transmission of theoretical knowledge, but also about the acquisition of soft-skills, which are increasingly demanded in the professional profiles of graduates. Therefore, the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) has elaborated its own program aiming to develop these generic capabilities, which are embedded in 13 Transversal Competences (CT in Spanish). All of them are worked on and evaluated in all UPV degrees, whether undergraduate or graduate. Specifically, the "Specific Instrumental" transversal competence has been working for two years by a team of lecturers from the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (DIMM in Spanish). Their objective is to develop an effective methodology to work on the acquisition and evaluation of this competence. The tool chosen to work with is ANSYS®, which is widely used in the field of mechanical engineering. This commercial software provides numerical solutions to complex problems using the Finite Element Method (FEM).

The proposed methodology has been implemented during this year in three different subjects with a total of 335 students and is based on previous experience carried out in small groups last year. The objective is also to consolidate a procedure suitable for large groups without increasing lecturer's dedication time. After analysing the characteristics that were not entirely satisfactory, the new proposal seeks to improve them while maintaining the correct actions of the previous experience. Thus laboratory training sessions and a different timed exercise for each student are kept. The most important changes affect the distribution of the worktime of the student and the assessable exercises. The number of evaluable exercises has been reduced to one, as well as the content and the test score.

The proposed exercise consists of modelling a mechanical component and carrying out several tasks related to the mechanical study of a component. The correct completion of the different sections allows a numerical evaluation of the laboratory sessions and the suitability of the methodology. At the same time, the justification of the steps followed, and the adequacy of the strategies followed give the level reached in the “Specific Instrumental” transversal competence.

The results reveal that the students have achieved a greater degree of autonomy in managing the software. Furthermore, the new evaluation system discriminates the mastery with greater rigor, in the past there were no intermediate marks, the capability was achieved or not. Additionally, all the practical sessions have been adapted to the sanitary situation following an online format. This adaptation to the COVID scenario has provided the opportunity to introduce changes in the lecturing material that will be maintained in the next courses.