Professional Development and Education in Engineering Design

Department of Industrial Engineering, University College, Galway, Eire

It is generally acknowledged that there is little design synthesis to be found in educational and training courses for engineers in third-level institutions. Instead, the activity of design is fragmented into a few of its constituent parts and incorporated into the traditional teaching and examination framework of the institution. This fragmentation both sterilises the design process and prevents any meaningful learning about it. This paper identifies the major shortcomings of traditional teaching methods a philosophical, of which the root cause is an artificial and insupportable divide between theory and practice. Following a brief examination of some of parameters affecting the introduction of design into a teaching curriculum, the paper then proceeds to describe an innovative approach that allows students to contribute positively to their own learning environment through the development of laboratory equipment and reference documentation, to develop an appreciation of design synthesis through active participation, and which provides a major impetus to professional training.