Startup of a student organization for educational purposes
Paper i proceeding, 2015
The mechanical engineering program at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has a long history in offering students courses where gained knowledge can be tested in an applied environment. Students’ testing their knowledge in practice often report that they gain a better understanding of the theoretical part of their knowledge. It is therefore of great interest to offer students ways to test their knowledge in order to increase their knowledge and educational level. Whereas a classic course can be comparatively unchanged from year to year in terms of for example methodology, a project course always needs a project leader who can direct the course depending on how it develops. Due to this, the nature of the course management is different and suffers from the risk of creating a substantial work load for the teacher. Since 2006, the mechanical engineering program at Chalmers has been teaching mainly 4-5 larger student projects. During later years more resources have been focused on one of these projects, resulting in less focus on the remaining project courses. However, all project courses have their different orientation and the demand for all have remained unchanged. At Chalmers the students have a long history of creating clubs and unions to gather students with similar interests. Students can join clubs with as wide range of activities as flying hot air balloons to extreme sports and clubs working in the stock market.
This paper describes the process during 3 years to utilize the tradition of students forming a club that would gather around a common project in order to create a “self-learning”-environment where students take an active part in the development of the project course. The paper discuss how the project course was started, how it evolved during three years until it became a team of students that actively took part in the next part of the educational process where the supervisor ends up in a role where only small directives have to be given to the team, thus a relatively small workload. The paper also describes how the project course act as a source for satellite projects that would work well as for example thesis projects. The paper is written from both the view of a supervisor and the view of a student who has been part of the project course since the beginning in 2011.
The main conclusions in this paper are that it is possible to utilize students to create their own long term project courses where the work load for supervisors is reduced. It is also shown that the students can actively take part in the deciding the next phase of the development of the project course. The students can also run the project course as a student club with a relatively high level of autonomy. Long term project courses can also be used as a source for projects that can be utilized in other contexts.