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Vertical and Horizontal Academic Projects: A Novel Teaching Technique in the Faculty of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

[+] Author Affiliations
A. Espinosa Bautista, M. García del Gállego, A. Zepeda Sánchez

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Paper No. IMECE2005-81960, pp. 243-248; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4232-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Competitiveness of the students is increasing. Students with better skills are graduating from universities all over the world. More and more efforts are being done to improve the skills of the undergraduate students. In the Faculty of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) many lecturers use projects to help students to better understand the concepts and to improve their teamwork skills. However many of these efforts are isolated and have been done in an empirical way. The Manufacturing and Design Center is seeking ways to get students with better skills and bring together the isolated efforts done by many lecturers. Therefore a new technique is being explored for the mechanical design area. This technique is based on the Project Based Learning method. Two main approaches are being explored: the Horizontal Projects (HP) and the Vertical Projects (VP). The basic idea for the HP is to have a Great Design Team (GDT) developing a project in one semester. Students from different subjects of the Mechanical Engineering program compose the GDT. Each of these groups have access to information related to the subject they are attending in a central database. Students work on the different issues according to their subject; e.g. Mechanics of Solids solve issues related to the stress in the different elements of the machine or product developed; the Product Design subject works on the definition of the product specifications, requirements etcetera. Periodical meetings help to evaluate the global progress of the GDT. In the VP one student works on different stages of the project as he/she moves from one semester to the next, all the time working in the same project. The expected benefit of this technique is to provide the student with a better view of the different stages involved in the development of a project. Both techniques are being explored. Each of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages. This paper describes in detail these techniques and the potential applications for other careers within the Faculty of Engineering.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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