Multidisciplinary Project-based Product Development Learning in Collaboration with Industry
Paper i proceeding, 2007
Developing products is a multi-disciplinary process of identifying and envisaging user needs and realizing a product offer that meets these needs. This has to be done in a cost-efficient manner, while ensuring that the developed products exceed customer expectations concerning functionality and quality, and that they stand out from competition. Running project-based education in collaboration with industry allows students to gain experiences in addressing “real” problems and skills in applying industrial working practices in an industrial context. Consequently, product development organizations deliver not just the technical design of the product but a complete product offer. This involves activities such as market analysis, product planning, industrial design and development of after-market services.
Some ten years ago, Chalmers University of Technology changed its Product Development project course, which addresses these needs, in order to increase the industrial collaboration and to facilitate a more multidisciplinary project composition. The course is now open for 4th year students from many disciplines including Mechanical Engineering, Automation Engineering, Industrial Management and Industrial Design. Thus, the student teams are multidisciplinary, which enables them to take on a multi-faceted, industry-sponsored product development task. The task requires that all the phases in a product development process are carried out. The students get the opportunity to appreciate that skills possessed by other disciplines are necessary to solve a complex problem, as well as the challenges involved including differences with respect to goals, culture, and disciplinary terminology.
Project-based learning (PBL)