Education for the real world

A practical education that imitates reality better equips our students to make the world a better place – a world that is socially just, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable.

Engineering education needs to develop its graduates’ knowledge, skills and attitudes in terms of environmental, economic and social sustainability. The challenge for an engineering programme is to develop these capabilities in the context of the specific discipline, for example mechanical engineering. How can students in a specific programme be motivated to learn about sustainability? What discipline-specific sustainability knowledge, skills and tools are needed? When should they be addressed in the programme? What should all students in the programme know vs. what should be left for specialisation? What prior knowledge do entering students bring with them to university and how does that change over time?

Our students

Our engineers often start off their careers as product or process developers, simulation engineers or project managers. One example of the quality of our educational programmes is that 96% of our graduates have a relevant job within six months of graduation. Another is that our programmes perform well in quality evaluations. Of the 16 production-related programmes, five were rated 'very high quality' and eleven 'high quality' in the last Swedish university evaluation.

The Production track

Programme-specific fundamental sustainability courses have recently been introduced in Chalmers’ Production programmes.


Dealing with actual sustainability problems takes students beyond theoretical understanding and helps them develop practical competence, commitment and skills. Integrated sustainability learning experiences are included in many courses, in subject matter as well as in project courses. Chalmers’ Production programmes are based on the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) model and feature at least one design-build-test project each year. In these projects students design, build and test a new product or system. Sustainability learning can then be closely connected to learning experiences aimed at mimicking authentic analysis or decision-making situations in a field such as materials selection, and in consideration of performance, lifecycle load and cost constraints.

Read more about the CDIO initiative.

During their master’s studies, students become more proficient in applying advanced sustainable development methods, which are often based on research undertaken in the Production Area of Advance.

Here are examples of research that has been converted into education:

  • Service innovation methodology MASIT, which was developed in collaboration with the Volvo Group (Product Development Project course)
  • Production flow simulation tool EcoProIT and a methodology for managing production data (Simulation of Production Systems)
  • Automation level assessment tools DYNAMO++ and SOPI (Production Systems)
  • 3D laser scanning methods and tools (bachelor’s and master’s theses)

Finally, Production students can specialize in sustainable development in the Industrial Ecology master’s programme. In this multidisciplinary programme, students develop skills to plan, lead and evaluate the environmental effects of measures and decisions related to product development, production processes and other complex systems.

 

Read more about our education for sustainable production

New lab creating change agents

Challenge Lab is a newly developed arena for multidisciplinary education that works in close collaboration with industry and local and national government. In the lab, students take on complex challenge-driven innovation projects. The lab’s ambitions include both addressing wider, more complex student projects than before and to implement the results in practice, with students acting as change agents in the outside world.  

On the right path

Our students say that sustainability knowledge is important for mechanical engineers and that they are taught relevant tools to make sustainable solutions.
 
The strategy to educate for sustainable development has given Chalmers recognition as a leader in engineering education, evidenced in awards such as Teknikföretagen’s Engineering Education of the Year 2012 award, outstanding national evaluation results in the evaluation of engineering programmes 2012-2013 and the leadership of the international CDIO initiative with more than 100 member universities.

Published: Mon 15 Sep 2014. Modified: Wed 30 Sep 2015