In March 2020, a new generation of future engineers began their studies at the School of Engineering of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where one of the first courses they encountered was “Engineering Challenges” (course page available at this link ). The course lasts one semester and is structured based on existing problems in Chilean society that can be faced with creativity and engineering tools by a large cohort divided into groups. Students must develop basic skills and knowledge to develop a prototype solution in a short time, an effort that in 2020 was transformed by the additional complexity resulting from the restrictions imposed to alleviate the COVID-19 crisis. In this scenario, the course went 100% online, which had to be resolved within two weeks by the team of teachers and their assistants, the latter also undergraduate students. The transformation was successful in large part thanks to the voice of these students, who were able to empathize with what their first-year peers were experiencing. This constant feedback fed a series of adaptations in the way of running the course and adapting it to the new reality.
On the other side of the continent, at MIT, something similar was conceived from August 2020 in the “Design Challenge One” course, also with an orientation to solving real problems, in this case, associated with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. To face the restrictions and take advantage of the crisis to generate a more permanent change, the teachers in charge transformed the modality of the course from a competition to a collaboration exercise. Each project earned points each time its peers used their limited “coins” to support it, indicating positive feedback on how to tackle the problem.
These and other transformative experiences in engineering education have been compiled by a team of experts led by the international consultant Dr. Ruth Graham on the CEEDA website (Collaborative Engineering Education in the Digital Age, Collaborative Engineering Education in the Digital Age ). The site details global best practice examples in collaborative learning and / or project-based engineering learning. It is an element part of a larger study that provides a look at the lessons learned from the emergency remote teaching period caused by COVID-19 and how this could impact the trajectory of engineering education in the future.
CEEDA case studies have been prepared from the universities highlighted as world leaders in the 2018 MIT report on the global state of the art of engineering education. The first four cases included in the website correspond to MIT (United States), Aalborg University (Denmark), STUD (Singapore), and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. New case studies will be phased in over the coming months, including UCL (UK) and Iron Range Engineering (US) in the next set.