New developments in Fontys IPE-Projects
Since 1995 IPD-projects have been carried out at the Fontys University of Higher Education. IPD stands for Integrated Product Development. In general the structure of those projects does not differ so much from traditional educational projects. However in this case projects are involved in which the goals are (partly) supplied by companies. Also the projects are carried out by students from different departments giving a first rise to problems of scheduling and communication. Nowadays students can better cope with those problems as in most of the departments working in projects already starts in an early stage. An example of how the E&E department improves project working by defining different project roles for every student is given in a separate paper (Bakker et al, 2004), which will be presented at the IPD Workshop 2004 in Magdeburg as well. In general an IPD-project is as follows: a group of six to eight students, preferably from different departments, gets an assignment from an (industrial) company. The assignment often consists of an investigation for a new product, including a market survey or the development of a prototype. It has to be carried out within one semester. This could be any semester, but given the complexity of most problems and the necessary theoretical background we prefer to choose the 7th semester for this. Also there is the advantage that a project like this is a good preparation for the student’s graduation project which takes place in the 8th semester. There is a limited amount of time available, as during this semester also other educational activities take place. In 1998 the concept of our local Integrated Product Development projects was already presented by our colleague Peter van Kollenburg on the TMCE conference in Manchester (Kollenburg et al, 1998). There it was decided to start international IPD-projects with the Otto-von-Guericke University and the University of Lehigh. The Dutch students have been working together with groups from those universities and with students from Finland (Oulu Institute of Technology). In the autumn of 2003 groups also collaborated with students from the UK (University of Bath) and from Hungary (Budapest Technical University). Tools have been developed and evaluated to improve the communication of those dislocated groups (Kollenburg et al, 2000). At the end of each semester all groups present their results in an official symposium for an audience of fellow students, tutors, company representatives and other interested partners.