Does 'Just in Time' Design Thinking Enhance Student Interest and Appreciation of Customer Needs in the Design of Machine Elements?
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Context: Design thinking which is becoming important in business and related disciplines has also begun to be engaged in engineering. This paper investigates the relevance and impact of student awareness of design thinking and customer needs prior to the onset of the gearbox design project assignment which is part of the course "design of machine elements" of the mechanical engineering program. This was implemented by providing students with 'Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)' of design thinking and stakeholder mindfulness into the course. The effectiveness of this intervention was assessed by conducting two surveys, one before and one after the presentation, and from focussed group discussions. Purpose: The research question is "Does 'just in time' design thinking enhance student interest and appreciation of customer needs in the design of the machine elements"? Approach: Sixty five second-year mechanical engineering students attended a presentation on design thinking with emphasis on sustainability and stakeholder needs prior to the design of machine elements (a gearbox) workshop. The students were also invited to participate in an interactive focus group discussion on design thinking one week after the presentation. Two surveys based on scores (1-5), one prior to the presentation of design thinking, and one, 6 weeks later at the end of the design assignment, were conducted to evaluate the impact of this presentation on students especially in their concept of gear design, cost, efficiency, aesthetics, safety, functionality, maintainability and sustainability. Results: Compared to the first survey which was completed by 49 students, the results of the second survey which was completed by 38 students showed an overall improvement of the students' consideration of completion timelines, cost, efficiency, aesthetics, safety, maintainability and sustainability in their gear design. The most significant improvement was that their overall confidence level in the design of gears had improved by 27.2%. Conclusions: Dym et al. mentioned in their paper Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching and Learning in the Journal of Engineering Education (2005) that, "Design is what engineers do, and the intelligent and thoughtful design of the engineering curriculum should be the community's first allegiance". It is agreed that all engineering students need to have some element of design thinking in their curriculum. However a 'just in time' intensive mode of teaching may suffice and give the necessary outcomes.
Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017)
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Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy