“Rediscovering the Joy of Engineering”
By Dr. Kalluri Vinayak, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Amitava ‘Babi’ Mitra, Dean, School of Engineering and Technology, BML Munjal University
The world over, undergraduate engineering degree programs usually attract brighter and more motivated students. They are then taught more or less the same physics, chemistry, and math that they did in high school, and are usually not provided the rationale as to why this is being done. At the same time we as educators do not deliver hands-on, experiential learning early in the degree program, through which students experience and learn that engineering is basically problem-solving in a given context, and get excited about wanting to learn to engineer. And then we wonder why engineering students are not motivated to pursue engineering as a career!
At BML Munjal University, we have introduced a course titled ‘Joy of Engineering’; this is mandatory for all first-year engineering students. It’s completely hands-on and team-based and there are no traditional lectures. It provides students with an overview of the single most important aspect of modern engineering, that is, design. The students work in teams, another critical aspect of the world of work that we don’t train our students to do.
They develop ideas and design concepts and propose solutions for specific design theme projects. Students experience fundamental aspects of the product development process, including determining needs, brainstorming, estimation, sketching, sketch modeling, concept development, design aesthetics, detailed design, prototyping, and manufacturing. The course also provides a platform to develop written, visual, and oral communication.
This course is now in its third offering and feedback from students has been very positive; they now want more and more hands-on in other courses too! The initial focus has been derived primarily from mechanical engineering; a team is now working on extending this to bring in basic applications of electronics engineering. The authors will share key aspects of how the course is conducted and will share their learning.