46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

The key guidelines for pedagogical innovation implemented by UTC aim at ensuring the students become the actors of their personal learning process. This calls for collaborative work on real, scale-one problems, also for reverse educational lectures and serious games. The aim is not only to better arm our student-engineers to face their future professional career but also to adapt the university to comply with the specifics features that characterize a new generation of undergraduates.

46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

Projects and creativity as priorities for future designers

The specialty course in Industrial Design in the Mech.Eng. Dept. of UTC has chosen to operate just like a design agency, where project learning and creativity enhancement approaches are key to the pedagogy deployed.

Students who register for this Industrial Design specialty can be seen as collaborators of a design agency or indeed as independent designers, faced as they are with the same professional reality: constant competition in terms of calls to tender. The course lecturers encourage their students to participate in various design competitions that are open to students. And of course they accompany them in these ventures. “We instate a one-semester project CC for each student or group of students who apply for a competition”, explains Emmanuel Corbasson, who heads the course and is also an independent designer. “This implies that we have a two-hour weekly session to check project progress and ‘deliverables’ and we train them as to how they should tender for the competition, how they should present the project to a jury…”

This coaching has proved rewarding. In just 7 years, students in UTC-GM-DI have won a dozen or so prizes. The latest successes came in 2017: a team won a Parrot Award for a surveillance drone to be deployed over an industrial site providing images and awaiting the arrival of the fire-fighters – this enables their action to be better adapted to the situation as observed. Another team came second in the James Dyson Awards (France), proposing a system to assist persons with mobility/motricity problems to sit down on (and get out of) a wheel-chair. “These competitions demand a high level of investment both from the students and their lecturer mentors, but the approach is definitely ‘win-win’”, notes Emmanuel Corbasson: “when we have laureates at these competitions, they find a first appointment or add-on internships much more easily and at the same time, their success adds to UTC’s notoriety”.


The ‘4P’ method

In this most original specialty (indeed very few engineering schools teach industrial design to their student-engineers), pedagogical innovation goes further still. “We operate practically as a design agency, stresses Emmanuel Corbasson, “using an approach we call the “4P” method”.

P for ‘projects’, inasmuch as learning by project is the key feature underpinning the specialty ; running from taking part in competitions to personal design contributions and industrial product design for industrial clients.

P for ‘place’, where the students work, equipped in such a way as to encourage and enhance ideas and creativity. Lecturer-mentors to hand, design areas, model-making and prototyping, not forgetting the coffee vending machine – all these resource are within 7 seconds!

P for ‘process’, given that ‘creatives’ must have all the tools needed for their projects : CAD, 3D printers, laser cutting machines… and the latest addition – nomadic virtual reality solutions to certify and design and ergonomic options before actually building a physical mock-up or prototype.

Lastly, a P for ‘people’: viz., the academics and the students, all seen as “full” members of the industrial design engineering team. “The classic system of the lecturer handing down knowledge is not conducive to enhancing students’ creative potential”, explains Emmanuel Corbasson. “Our objective is to be close to our students and always to show a benevolent attitude in regard to their proposals, thereby encouraging them to fully express their potentialities”