Mechatronics is a relatively new discipline of engineering that is fast gaining in popularity. It provides the synergistic fusion of mechanics, electronics, control theory, and computer science. Authentic projects focus on real-world, complex problems and their solutions using problem-based activities (Lombardi, 2007). The dual goals of deeper knowledge of technical fundamentals and the ability to lead in creation and operation may be achieved through a curriculum structure that exploits extra- and co-curricular and extra-campus learning opportunities (Crawley, 2007).
The mechatronics engineering subjects are in general thought as challenging to learn and hence they need innovative approaches to impart knowledge while keeping students‟ interest. Therefore, purpose of this study is to stimulate student learning through authentic projects while enhancing the student engagement and deeper learning through co-curricular activities. The hypothesis is that the authentic projects and co-curricular activities can positively influence the students‟ learning and their current and future endeavours.
An authentic project was introduced in a mechatronics subject. Students in the same subject were encouraged to participate in an international robotic competition which is of similar nature to the authentic project. They were also motivated to form the UTS robotic society for engaging in various other mechatronics/robotics projects. Feedbacks from the students were collected through the centrally conducted student feedback survey (SFS) as well as testimonies from the past and current undergraduate students.
The preliminary study shows that the authentic projects and co-curricular activities have positively affected the students‟ learning and current and future endeavours. Student feedback suggests that the external competition contributed to deeper learning of the subject matter. The UTS robotics society activities have stimulated the student learning and contributed to enhanced student engagement and learning opportunities which are self-driven based on individual interests.
Students‟ interest, engagement and deeper learning of the subject matter can be enhanced by authentic projects facilitated by carefully chosen co-curricular activities in mechatronics engineering discipline.
Authentic projects, co-curricular activities, mechatronics education