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Type: Journal article
Title: The green petrol heads: Developing practical professional engineering skills that generate interest in sustainable engineering
Author: Kestell, C.
Citation: Australian Journal of Engineering Education, 2008; 14(2):105-114
Publisher: Australasian Association of Engineering Education
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 1325-4340
Statement of
CD Kestell
Abstract: In 2007 a group of final-year honours students from the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide rode their biodiesel motorbike prototype (The Biobike) from Darwin to Adelaide under gruelling Australian summer conditions. They were competing in the Greenfleet Class of the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Car Challenge; a category designed to demonstrate practical, alternative energy solutions. A week later, amidst an eclectic collection of weird and wonderful vehicles, the students were thrilled to finally cross the finish line. Their relief soon turned to elation when they learnt that the extremely low net-carbon emission of the Biobike brought them victory. They had won the Greenfleet Class. Most importantly, the students’ functioning as an effective engineering team had proven that they could actively engineer alternative transport energy solutions amidst the current global energy crisis. The Hybrid Electric Solar Vehicle is another example of such a project, which while not at such an advanced stage of development as the Biobike, also promotes a self-belief in sustainable engineering, while providing an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students to apply their theoretical engineering knowledge to a true-to-life engineering team orientated project. While both of these projects have an obvious alternative energy theme, they follow the lead of the internationally acclaimed Formula SAE project, in which university teams from all over the world design and build a small race car. The Formula SAE project continues to retain is popularity among participants and sponsoring employers, because students quickly learn how to apply their knowledge to a practical engineering problem and develop valuable vocational skills, so that they will quickly begin to operate effectively in their professional engineering environment. This paper will discuss the educational merits and outcomes of these projects from the perspective of a lecturer who has supervised students in them all.
Keywords: Problem-based learning; professional and vocational skills; sustainable energy.
RMID: 0020084675
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Appears in Collections:Mechanical Engineering publications

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