‘Engineering Design’ course which was being offered to Mechanical and Electrical domain students at the 3rd semester has been restructured to offer product development experience in an inter-disciplinary environment. This is an attempt probably first of its kind in the engineering education scenario at a large scale. It is a 3 credit course which will engage students from determining the customer’s needs, developing specifications, generating conceptual designs, designing the final product and virtual prototyping. The classes are conducted in two parts. Part-I is offered to a division in a studio mode to 12 teams with each team consisting of 6 students – 2 each from Mechanical, Electrical and Computer Science domains. There are 15 divisions consisting of 1080 students all put together from Mechanical, Electronics & Communication, Compute Science, Automation & Robotics and Electrical & Electronics Engineering disciplines. The Part-II is offered at the respective department laboratories to inculcate the required skills among students in using the various tools to accomplish the task of virtual prototyping.
As an extension to the ‘Engineering Design’, another course ‘Product Realization’ has been a 2 credit course introduced at the 4th semester. During this course, the emphasis is on the concurrent and collaborative process of arriving at the best solutions at each step in the hardware and software development processes and assuring that the total process is optimized with the best of knowledge and tools. At the end of this course, the student teams who have already executed a virtual prototype in the previous semester, are required to build in MakerSpace – a specially established state-of-the-art comprehensive manufacturing facility (mechanical & electronic) and demonstrate the working of an electromechanical prototype augmented with IoT technology.
The two courses together provide multi-disciplinary, systems-perspective to problem solving. These courses force a systems-perspective by using a `complete’ product development process, i.e., the students must take a product from its idea phase to manufactured product. Students no longer focus on individual parts at the expense of the entire system. These courses establish the fact that an innovation in undergraduate course work will have profound implications on students, essentially enabling them to handle real- world problems. The key takeaway from these courses for the young designers would be to provide an orderly process for organizing an ill-structured design activity in order to support making decisions and trade-offs among possibly competing solutions.