Design of an interdisciplinary engineering elective scoped around collaboration with Small Medium Sized enterprises (SME)

Nynne Budtz Christiansen, Mai-Mai Ulrich, Maja Lund Pontoppidan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    To acquire the right competences as an engineer in the 21st century1 ((King, 2007), you need to be able to work inter-disciplinary and learn the necessary innovation methods and tools2.
    This paper will strive to answer some of questions identified in the progress of developing and implementing a real life setting elective course, involving small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in engineering education. How do you engage with companies without compromising the learning outcome? How you manage the expectation from the companies and still maintaining the student responsibility for the problem solving? Do the interdisciplinary teams add value for the SME?
    The elective SME Innovation and Intrapreneurship has been developed by DTU Diplom a department of the Technical University of Denmark. The department is mainly responsible for the education of the degree Bachelor of Engineering which is a 3.5 year long engineering education building on engineering industry practice as its core. All BEng educations build on the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) as the overall teaching paradigm3. The development has been funded by the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, and is seen as an experiment in the process of transforming the department into a hotspot for engineering innovation and entrepreneurship. Alongside this a much bolder step of introducing innovative competencies as a general intended Learning Outcome for the whole education4. The driver of this change will be the introduction of a compulsory 10 ECTS element with focus on interdisciplinary and industry collaboration for all Bachelors of Engineering at The Technical University of Denmark in 2016.
    As collaboration partner the elective has chosen to work with small and medium sized enterprises (SME) as more than half of the value added to the European economy comes from the SME’s and around half of all employees work in micro or small businesses with less than 50 employees5. At the same time the barriers for university collaboration with SMEs are somewhat steeper than working with larger organizations6. The paper will focus on the SME cooperation and proceed with an introductory explanation of the current course, how the course has been scoped including the theory behind and how the company cooperation has been developed. Finally it will bring a discussion about preliminary results (as the course is ongoing) and recommendations for the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 42nd Annual SEFI Conference (2014)
    Number of pages9
    Publication date2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    Event SEFI Annual Conference 2014 - Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 15 Sept 201419 Sept 2014
    Conference number: 42


    Conference SEFI Annual Conference 2014
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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