Unlike the traditional classroom experience where students are expected to compete with one another or remain uninvolved, especially where instructions are highly structured; students at BMU are given hands-on experiential learning situations in a more semi-structured approach.
Classes are designed to engage students in hands-on experiences that are linked to real world problems and situations, including through extensive laboratory and workshop exposure, where the instructor facilitates rather than directs student progress.
Although the learning content remains important, learning from the process through hands-on is at the core of the teaching process at BMU. In this process, students are guided to perform hands-on experience; share their observations with their peers; and discuss, analyse and reflect upon their experience. The instructor shall be the facilitator during the process of making the student realise and feel a sense of ownership for what he has acquired from the hands-on experience. Following is a summary of the hands-on learning experience adopted by the instructors in some of the courses:
- Calculus and Differential Equations
- Fundamentals of Computers
- Joy of Engineering
- Workshop Practice
Joy of Engineering (JOE) provides students with an overview of the single most important aspect of modern engineering – design. JOE aims to provide a platform to develop small innovative, virtual and physical projects to dissect or develop some ideas or products.
The basic idea is to focus on design for purpose, as well as opportunities to create innovative solutions to realistic problems. The students will be given the opportunity to work in teams to develop ideas and design concepts and propose solutions for specific design projects. Students will be given the space to enhance creativity and experience fundamental aspects of the product development process, including determining needs, brainstorming, estimation, sketching, sketch modelling, concept development, design aesthetics, detailed design, prototyping and manufacturing. The course shall provide a platform to develop written, visual, and oral communication.
Sample projects are as follows:
- Welcome robot
- Portable solar water heater
- Tracking of human being
- Purifying the water without electricity
- Rain water harvesting system
- CAN crushing machine
- Mobile operated electric motor
- Cable organizer
- Multi-purpose table
- Wireless charging
- Automation of electrical appliances
- Spherical tyres
- Solar paint
- White board eraser
- Vibrating mat
- Study tablet
- Medical server
- Gravity light
- Smart helmet
The physics programmes follow a three pronged hands-on learning approach:
In the traditional laboratory, students are given a manual for the experiment and asked to perform the experiment as per the instructions in the manual. However at BMU, students are required to identify items in the lab and design experiments to verify the theories that were introduced in lectures. This allows students to think out of the box, and apply their theoretical learning in a meaningful manner.
Computer based simulations:
Simulations are used in class and as assignments for students. For example, a simulation of interference can be used to showcase how light patterns change when they pass through various slits of different sizes.
Design project:Students are given design projects in order to allow them to apply their theoretical environment in a practical environment. For example, current students were asked to design a roller coaster track. This involves applying knowledge across disciplines – including mathematics, computers, and physics, and then presenting their designs to faculty.
Chemistry courses have been designed to tailor the needs of future engineers. They involve extensive theoretical learning with the use of modern technology. Visuals help students to better understand the subject. Laboratory experiments were tailored in such a way that they match with every topic discussed in lectures.
Students are encouraged to brainstorm their own ideas to come up with interesting experiments that match their learning in the classroom. Few experiments that were conducted during lectures to validate the theory studied include an iodine clock reaction to find out the order of reaction during chemical kinetics lecture; mechanism of a glass electrode during electrochemistry lecture; among others.
In addition, students are able to conduct experiments and projects outside their domain; such as synthesis and purification of small organic molecules, isolating caffeine from tea leaves, determination of calcium in milk, and other interesting experiments.
To motivate the students and to ignite their interest in abstract subjects like Mathematics, various applications of mathematics are discussed during lectures. These applications are related to nature around us, and different branches of engineering and sciences, which allow students to make logical connections between theory and practice.
Visualisation of Calculus
Instead of doing calculus on a piece of paper, our students are encouraged to visualise the calculus using software to better understand concepts. For example, current students were asked to write some practical examples of functions and to analyse these functions using Geogebra software. The students came up with many interesting practical applications of calculus such as calculating the total sale of Xiaomi mobiles in India, population growth, radioactive decay, the rate at which water comes out of a tap, voltage generated in a RLC circuit, Moore’s law, and the area of a steel frame.
Simulations play a key role in helping students better understand calculus. For examples, our students were given very simple simulations and were asked to run them and collect the data for different variables, and to fit a graph for the given data. The objective of this simulation was to introduce the concept of concavity, convexity, smoothness of the curves and to make the students learn about basic curve tracing.
To motivate the students and check how students apply the concepts that they have learnt in lectures, our students regularly complete group assignments. Some of the topics and mathematical challenges given to current students include:
- Mathematical analysis of the Angry Bird game with the help of Geogebra software Objectives:
- Mathematical equations of the paths of each kind of bird, their functional representation, and some other properties of functions
- Mathematical and scientific analysis of size of fictional characters in movies like King Kong and the Austin Power series
- Mathematics in Nature
- Modelling of the path of straight stretch roller coaster with maximum thrill under certain fixed parameters
- Modelling of the memorisation rate of human brain and to validate the mathematical model by doing a survey on all students residing in the hostel
- Mathematical analysis of the back spin of a Table-Tennis ball
- Mathematical modelling of the progress of infectious disease
This Lab aims to provide students with hands-on experience through a three-pronged approach namely “How Stuff Works”, “Learn It Yourself” and “Do It Yourself”.
The students through “How Stuff Works” disassemble and then reassemble various parts of a personal computer, get exposure to various networking, motherboards and other hardware components.
The “Learn It Yourself” projects make the students research on the internet, gather information on a topic and make a small presentation describing the topic in detail. Similarly students design and implement an innovative 3D animation film and narrate a story by using 3D animation tools like Alice, Muvizu.
Through “Do It Yourself” students acquire the ability to create and use documents, spreadsheets and presentations in order to communicate and store information as well as to support problem solving. They learn the basic skills like Analysing data, Visualising data, Presenting data, Website design and Structured flowchart design by using Raptor.
In addition, students learn key programming concepts that are implemented in the different programming languages like C, C++ etc. Students design, code, implement and test complete programmes. It also focuses on the programming constructs which are used in other languages as well.