DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Wever, Renee; Ruiz, Juan; Bengtsson, Marie
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Linköping University, Sweden
Section: Established, alternative and emerging educational paradigms to equip engineers and designers for future challenges
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.100
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


In recent years we have developed an embryo of an open approach to education, where students, researchers and company liaisons meet, to together take on a real challenge that the company partner needs to solve. This projects are part of the Sugar network on design thinking. Work conditions are realistic, and the initial brief contains a challenge, but no given solution to be developed, or requirements to work towards. We have so far collaborated with varied organisations, including large, internationally well-known companies like Bosch, BASF, Tetra Pak and Barilla. Each kind of participant comes to the challenge with a different purpose, but they all work towards one common goal: to present an innovative proof-of-concept prototype solution to the challenge by the end of the project. For student participants, the project is part of a course in the final year of their studies and works as a transition towards working life. They get to collaborate with students of other disciplines and from other universities around the world and hone their virtual collaboration skills and create something real. They also get to collaborate, and co-create, with industry experts. For company liaisons, the project represents an opportunity to learn new methods, new ways of thinking, a chance of future-proofing development work by collaborating with students and researchers from around the world, but also a way to get new insights into what they are already developing. We see great potential to further develop and scale this education embryo into a platform that will host a master’s program that accepts a mix of more newly graduated (bachelor) students and students with work experience who are there for a second stint of education. A master’s program would be designed for more long-term commitment to further education (1-2 years), where the project is the backbone of the education program into which course content is added to support the process. Apart from the possibility for companies to have employees participate in the project as liaisons or embedded participants, many Foundational Content Courses (weeks), Workshops (days), and Modules (hours) will be open for practitioners to participate together with students. In addition, the program will also contain Master Classes (hours) taught by practitioners, who then participate as teachers. This will better support lifelong learning and create opportunities for more short-term education commitment and stronger integration between education content and company work assignments, and also better prepare students-about-to-graduate for work life expectations. Currently, we are running two Sugar network projects in which employees from Saab are participating in varied ways. Some are in for the full five months, some join only for the more theoretical bookclub, and some join singular workshops. In this way, we practice a learning by prototyping approach in line with what we teach. This paper will present both our thoughts on the overall master program, as well as learnings from the past years and our more intense current set-up.

Keywords: life-long learning, prototyping, design thinking, industry collaboration


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