Curriculum: Engineering Undergraduate Courses < >Curriculum: Engineering Undergraduate Courses - Introduction
One of the first such discussions resulted from the use of the word 'subject' in regard to design. The Working Party resolved that design could not be equated with subjects such as mathematics or physics, but was an 'activity'. An analogy with research provided a useful comparison. Whilst recognising the fundamental difference between them, there were also similarities in that both were activities and yet research was never referred to as a subject. The view of design as a subject had almost certainly arisen from academia, with its desire that all taught material should conform to the 'academic mould'. The fact that design was not a subject in the traditional sense did not exclude the possibility of design courses, neither did it mean that it could not be taught.
Two main strategies were proposed for carrying out the task allocated to the Working Party. One approach was to review the elements that constituted taught courses in design and to order them in a cohesive manner. The other, and more fundamental approach, was to work towards a common understanding of what is done in design and propose curriculum guidelines an the basis of this understanding. Although a far more onerous task, the latter strategy would, if successful, provide a sound foundation on which to base curriculum proposals. It was agreed to adopt the latter approach and to identify the body of core material that could be shown to constitute the design activity. The Working Party therefore addressed itself to the following questions:
One of the basic issues arising from such models related to the widespread practice of equating design with problem solving. Whilst some members of the group were strongly supportive of this view, others were convinced that design was something much more comprehensive and purposeful, which had as its objective the satisfaction of human needs and wants.
The Working Party finally agreed with this latter view, which had been clearly argued in an article in the 'Engineering Designer' (4). The purpose of design was to meet human needs in terms of artefacts, and in so doing a.variety of problems requiring solutions were almost certain to occur, but these were only part of the wider activity encompassed by design.
After exhaustive discussion, the Working Party agreed that the model in Figs la and 1b was acceptable to all members and represented what they all considered they were trying to achieve in their design teaching. A description of the model is given in Appendix A.
The following were the main reasons for the choice:
During the academic year 1984/85 the main thrust of the work carried out by the Working Party was concerned with the identification of material to be recommended for inclusion in the curriculum, any priorities which should be accorded to it and the order in which it should be taught to students. Inherent difficulties were revealed in seeking a solution which would gain general acceptance where there existed so much variety of experience and opinion. It was only after considerable debate that a teaching strategy was proposed which provided for the teaching of design topics in a comprehensive, structured and integrated manner, interfacing with traditional subject areas.
The ensuing proposals in report form were presented for discussion at the SEED '85 Seminar and received the full approval of the delegates with minor modifications, which are included in this report.
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