LiU inspires engineering education in Brazil

Linköping University is one of several universities around the world working together to improve engineering education. Taking inspiration from LiU, several engineering programmes in Brazil are undergoing radical change.

A Brazilian version of a catapult A Brazilian version of a catapult

“Engineering education must teach more than just knowledge of the subject. Students must develop both personal and professional skills, such as designing solutions to actual problems, thinking creatively and critically, and the ability to work in a team and communicate”, says Svante Gunnarsson, professor of automatic control.

LiU has worked for many years to improve its courses and programmes such that they impart such skills, and the same basic ideas are now spreading to Brazil. The concept goes by the abbreviation CDIO: conceive, design, implement, operate. LiU was one of four universities that started to develop the model in 2000, and in this way improve education in engineering. The others were Chalmers University of Technology, the Royal Institute of Technology, and MIT in the US. Today, more than 100 institutions of higher education all over the world participate in international CDIO collaboration.

“CDIO can be seen as a systematic framework designed to help students develop their skills and abilities during their education. Together with other CDIO-based institutions all over the world, we have developed education such that when students complete the programme, they are able to start work immediately, and satisfy the requirements of the industry”, explains Svante Gunnarsson.

Svante Gunnarsson, ISY och Peter Hallberg; IEI 2019Svante Gunnarsson and Peter HallbergThe idea that education should encompass more than pure knowledge of the subject, however, is new for many who work with engineering education in Brazil. This was why two teachers from Brazil came to Linköping for six months in 2015-2016, and followed the engineering education at LiU. They saw concrete examples of how CDIO is used in education, and how students developed their thought processes and skills, based on actual tasks.

“I held workshops with the two teachers describing what I did and how I reasoned with respect to the teaching processes. We discussed the effects of the student’s background, their prior knowledge and what could help them to master the material”, says Peter Hallberg, assistant lecturer in the Division of Machine Design, and creator of several basic-level courses based on CDIO principles.

The two teachers took the ideas home with them, and the CDIO concept is now being spread to several Brazilian universities. A national working group in Brazil has worked to revamp engineering education in the country, and has published a report in which the CDIO concept is included. The report has now been approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Education.

“Thus, we have to some extent influenced the education in such a large country. It’s gratifying to be a part of that process”, says Svante Gunnarsson.

Translated by George Farrants

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