MECHATRONICS EDUCATION THROUGH CURRICULUM INTEGRATION
Universidad EAFIT (COLOMBIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Subject based courses usually lack the opportunity to be integrated within a curriculum’s academic period. As a consequence resources invested by teachers, students and institutions on each course (time, money and energy) are usually inefficient and the results don´t meet quality expectations. While the world's needs demand integrated approaches, integrated societies, etc. the education itself lacks proper ways to show curricula as a whole instead of as a bunch of subjects without much in common. This issue happens at different levels of education such as primary, secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate and all over the globe. An integrated curriculum brings many new challenges such as coordination among teachers and their acknowledgement of the curriculum as a whole. But in a global context where virtual education is gaining place, real education requires to transcend the information and search for strategies that offer unique experiences not only toward the knowledge, but the being and making. This paper is an attempt to bring into practice the academic model of XVI century, where the resources are shared. It shows how the postgraduate program of Technical Systems Integrated Design at Universidad EAFIT brings into practice an integrated curriculum in order to ease the integration of continuously developing cyber-physical technologies.
The curriculum’s courses are designed component based, in such a way that each course teaches a certain component of a Technical System, including the interfaces. Although each course has its own teacher and methodologies, the integrating excuse is a project shared among the courses. Therefore a menu of multidisciplinary projects is proposed by the teachers, where each project requires knowledge, skills and challenges from each lecture. Teachers plan the academic period in tandem and build the teams whose members are chosen according to different criteria such as credits, gender, and background. The evolution of the project is assessed written and oral. Teams synthesize their project development and evolution through a paper-type document which is handed out to the four teachers four times per semester, while two oral presentations are performed during the middle and final week to the judges (the four teachers simultaneously). The dedication of each member is co-assessed as it is difficult for the teacher to keep track of every student’s involvement.
Since the implementation of this strategy four projects were developed during 2015-2 while three other in 2016-1. Ranging from multirotors, automatic guided vehicle, bio inspired robots and a mechatronic prosthesis. The results are far more reliable and functional prototypes, and the entire academic processes were synthesized into academic papers with a feasible potential to be published. Besides technical results, students were able to focus their efforts into a single project with branches from the different courses. Teachers had the chance to interact during the semester's planning, the project menu proposal and during the written and oral assessment. In this case the reduced amount of projects improved the use of the physical infrastructure and tools, where as in a subject based course the amount would have been multiplied by a factor of four. More important, the connectivity of the acquired knowledge and its practical use was experimented, validating what an academic program preaches and the connectivity among its courses.
Keywords: Curriculum innovation, cyber physics, integrated design, mechatronics, team group.