Educating engineering practice in six design projects in a row

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Tomorrow’s engineers are required to have a good balance between deep working knowledge of engineering sciences and engineering skills. In the Bachelor in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft, students are educated to master these competences so that they are ready to engineer when they graduate. The bachelor curriculum has three mainstreams of about equal study load: Aerospace Design, Aerospace Engineering & Technology, and Basic Engineering Sciences. The Aerospace Design stream is built up semester after semester of a design project and an accompanying design course. The main objectives of the design projects are related to contextual learning, learning by doing together, and learning and practicing academic and engineering skills, and being a mental organiser for the students. Over the years of study the design projects increase in complexity and openness, from knowing to application and synthesis, from tangible to abstract, from monoto multidisciplinary, and from mostly individual to team work. All projects exploit the factors that promote intrinsic motivation (challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy, competition, cooperation, and recognition). To assure that the intrinsic motivation factors and the semester themes are well addressed, each design project is characterised by a storyline, professional role, client, real-life problem, engineering process, and certain attainment levels of engineering skills. The projects make use of student project spaces in a dedicated building for collaborative learning, and laboratories like wind tunnels, a structures and materials laboratory, a study collection of aircraft and spacecraft parts and subsystems, and a flight simulator.