Cross-functional Product Development education - experiences from a decade of student projects in collaboration with industry
Paper in proceedings, 2007
Developing products is a multi-disciplinary process of identifying and envisaging user needs and bringing those needs into life. This has to be done in a cost-efficient manner, while ensuring products that exceed expectations on quality standards in form, fit, and function and – stand out from competition. These facts, have made it necessary to incorporate project-based learning in collaboration with industry in a product development curriculum, in which students gain experiences in developing products and insights in industrial activities. As a result these students can grasp inter-related aspects of subjects associated to product development better. Some ten years ago, Chalmers University of Technology made it possible for students not only from mechanical engineering to take a project course in Product Development, but also students from automation and control, industrial economics, and students studying either a MSc or MArt in Industrial Design. This was done mainly to address the multi-disciplinary nature of designing, so that students could get the opportunity to appreciate the skills attained by students from other disciplines and learn from each other. Since Chalmers University of Technology now shift its educational framework according to the Bologna process, and starting 44 new Master’s programmes (Product Development being one of them) we will take the opportunity to summarise our experiences of providing these cross-functional product development projects, with 4th year students, where student groups plans and carries out all phases in a product development project to solve an industrial problem in close collaboration with an industry partner. These experiences reflect process design, supervising, adopted pedagogic, student teamwork and academic/industrial collaborations.