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P. Ponsa1, R. Vilanova2, B. Amante1

1Technical University of Catalonia (SPAIN)
2Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ETSE (SPAIN)
This communication presents a collaborative experience between four Spanish centers: the School of Engineering (ETSE) and the Sports Services Area (SAF) both from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) jointly with two centers of the Technical University of Catalonia, the higher school from Vilanova i la Geltru (EPSEVG) and the higher school from Terrassa (ETSEIAT). The idea behind this collaboration is to explore the possibility of project development for engineering students. The basic principle of such projects is the identification of the corresponding roles associated to the different parts that can be found on current social/industrial activity.

The motivation for this communication is to show how opportunities for real world control and automation applications can be found on the immediate environment. The Sports Service Area (SAF) is one of the largest and with more complex installations in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). From the evidence for the need of introducing new control elements and to integrate the different subsystems to help the SAF management staff the collaboration between both entities (SAF and the Automation and Systems Engineering Group) has emerged.

In this context, the SAF entity is the customer, the ETSE member is the software development group (monitoring and control interface), the ETSEIAT member provide us the project-based learning approach, and the EPSEVG member give us the human-centred automation approach.

The control engineering students from EPSEVG center have the following roles: software developers (in order to build new supervisory control interfaces), designers (in order to apply ergonomics recommendations on display design), and usability engineers (in order to prepare usability test and measure efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction of the SAF human supervisors).

This paper presents the application of the Role Playing method in engineering class from the point of view of an industrial automation case study. Finally we will explain the feedback of the SAF staff and the effectiveness of this method with the aid of well defined usability metrics.


[1] Ponsa, P., Amante, B., Roman, J.A., Oliver, S., Díaz, M. and Vives, J. “Higher education challenges: introduction of active methodologies in Engineering curricula”. International Journal of Engineering Education.
(accepted on March 2009).