One course to teach it all

I have posted anything on this space, the reason for this is my involvement in the Chalmers Formula student project as I have mentioned in my previous posts. Though, this must be a reason for me to write more, its tough to find time while in this project.

This project is also part of a 15 credit course here in Chalmers. Frankly, it deserves more than just 15 credits for the amount of time, dedication and work one puts into this course over the period of 11 months. But, The credits are just bonus for what one learns during the period of this project. The structure of this project, I believe must be adopted by many course at all universities to bring out the best in budding engineers. A few things that I have learned/Developed better during the progress of this project are:

The most important aspect while working on such a large project with time as the biggest constraint is to work more efficiently, and what better way than working as a team. The team during the initial days of the project comes up with a team goal that everyone believes in and has agreed upon. This leads us to work with a common objective. All courses here in chalmers focus on group learning, and have mini projects which one is supposed to work on for one complete study period. This to a very large extent helps improve Teamwork but is time limited and the teams are smaller, many a time ending up with each person doing one task of the project.

Cultural exposure:
The current team is a mix of 9 nationalities in total. While working as a team one tends to learn/imbibe different cultures over this short period of time. One is exposed to a number of practices,ideologies and cuisines from across the globe. The work culture is also a very important thing that comes into picture in this case. With the number of different cultures coming together, there are a number of cultural clashes, and we as a team overcome such hurdles to reach the team goal.

Technical knowledge
The main work is done by the project engineers, who study a master course at Chalmers. They are assisted by trainees who are in the Bachelor program. The challenge here is to build a complete race car from scratch in a time span of 10 months, and then compete with many other universities at an international scale. It is impossible to do if each person has knowledge narrowed to only his master program. If not in detail one learns the overall general working idea of each component of this race car, and gains expertise in one area.

Here at Chalmers the course is designed in such a way that it gives the students the freedom to organize themselves and the project as they see fit, With restrictions on budget(Ofcourse). It is left upto the team to bring in new partners who are willing to fund/support us. The team is supposed to organize and re-organize in order to over come hurdles. Summing the project to give an experience of a complete start-up.

Time management:

One of the most important aspect when working on such a mammoth project with another course side by side is managing time. With all the tight deadlines and pressure from all sides good time management can make all the difference required.

All is all, the experience gained during the period of the project is what matters and what shall always remain. I also believe college’s/universities must encourage such courses to balance the classroom teaching that exists.

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have” –Randy Pausch,The last lecture