Project based learning in renewable energy with first year Level 7 and Level 8 Engineering Students

O'Dwyer, Aidan (2011) Project based learning in renewable energy with first year Level 7 and Level 8 Engineering Students. [Conference Proceedings]


This contribution will report on the use of a student design project for enhancing learning about renewable energy solutions on separate first year modules in electrical engineering at the author's college. The project objective, as outlined to the students, was to design and build a, possibly innovative, everyday device that can generate electricity from sources of free energy. As background to the project, students were made aware of some examples of devices available commercially, such as an energy generating rucksack and a clockwork radio; they were also shown examples of projects completed by previous student cohorts. The project could be done individually, or as part of a team of two persons. The finished project was demonstrated by the student(s), and formed part of the student's continuous assessment grade. From a learning viewpoint, the project objective was to encourage first year engineering students to use their natural design creativity in a freeform, brainstorming manner, in an area of pressing interest to society. The benefits of the design project are as follows: • it allows young engineering students to use their creativity and to further develop their academic interests; • it establishes a balance between students' expectations of their programme, and the nature of the academic work; • it assists with student engagement and retention; • it introduces competitiveness in a fun and undemanding form; • it allows students to interact and associate with one another through a common interest; • it gives students an opportunity to show interesting work to their friends and family. The author has used the design project as part of a suite of learning and assessment options in two first-year modules for five academic years. Examples of student project work will be detailed in the accompanying poster presentation.

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