NEW TOOLS FOR LEARNING CONTROL PROCESSES
The importance of learning by doing in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the desire to adapt to the Bologna Declaration have prompted our department to test and evaluate a proposal made by our students, the aim of which is to help them know more about the reality of the current situation in companies.
Our Research Group experience is in introducing new methodologies into the learning control processes of two subjects in two different study areas. Agro-Industrial Automation and Process Control and the Control and Instrumentation of Chemical Processes are subjects that are taken during the third year of the Bachelor's degrees in Agri-food Engineering and Chemical Engineering respectively at the University of Girona (UdG). The structure of these subjects is three hours a week of theory, one hour a week of problems and one hour in the laboratory.
The main aim of these subjects is to give students a vision of process control, instrumentation and alimentation and sequential control. The interesting proposal made by the students is to increment the number of visits to industrial companies as a methodology in the learning process.
Throughout this academic year and the previous one, we have incorporated this proposal as a component of the subjects. Students’ timetables include a particular day to visit different companies with those studying agro-food engineering visiting food companies and chemical engineering students visiting chemical industries. The point is to see and understand processes in a real life situation where students can witness all the theoretical aspects described in the subject.
The methodology we use to introduce this activity is similar to that of a work placement. After the visit, students compile a report that includes an introduction to the company, a description of the process and an in-depth study of all the components described. This part of the subject is evaluated by the report and some questions in the final exam.
The results of these experiences are very good because students can relate the theory to practice and they can see the different kinds of components studied working in a real life situation. They can ask the guide, who is normally an engineer, relevant questions and receive feed-back. There is a rapprochement between the university and businesses and students can see whether that particular sector and/or company may be of interest to them in the future. In brief, it is enormously beneficial for students.
In this presentation, we will relate our experience and the difficulties and results of this methodology as a new teaching and learning modality.