In-company project- An in-company project is carried out by one or two students within an (international) organisation. The innovation project lasts one year (either a whole academic year or two times one semester) and takes place in the working environment of the organisation.
Team project-During a team project you work intensively on an innovative project on campus together with a group of students for a whole academic year.
Start-up project-Enterprising students can write, during an entire academic year, a business plan around their own idea with a view to start a company.
Chrisje and I then talked about the integration of Community Service Engineering (CSE) into the program. We discussed the possibility of adding a ‘social’ project, but it seems like it is possible to do social projects under the already designated three and adding a fourth category would be more difficult than the value. This is because this program is not just within KU Leuven, but a broader collection of universities around Belgium . But then I soon realized a big difference.
Although it is true that it would not be necessary to add a social dimension to the projects to incorporate the mission of CSE, the other aspects of CSE might be lost. I can not speak much about this since I have not yet been to a CSE class, but these are my observations. If CSE focuses on user centered design and has aspects that teach engineers not just how to build but what to build, these might be lost in this integration. The projects focus more on technical skills and how to work on a team or in a professional setting. Since they are very independent of each other, it is hard to talk about them as a whole. One two people doing different in-company internships will get out of the experience is so broadly different from each other. So the team project vs and in-company project will teach even more different things.
I wanted to learn more about these projects. Chrisje explained that for in-company projects, the companies are chosen with the criteria that the student will be working on something innovative for the company and in development and implementation. It is common that a student will be working on a business aspect or something other than development, but everything differs between the project.
I will visit a team hopefully next week, which will give me a better understanding of their work. From what I understand, most people either have a technical role or a technical role and a leadership/business role.
In both forms of the project, it seems that the principles taught in UOCD (an Olin course called User Oriented Collaborative Design) which is what sets the Olin mindset apart are missing.
Now, this is not completely surprising. Education in Belgium is incredibly traditional. Most classes are lecture and exam based. This program on its own is incredibly innovative, but its mission (although not conflicting with CSE) has a different twist. It will be interesting to find out more about it!
One aspect that seems to be very important to everyone working on this is the marketing. Since this is so untraditional, it is a difficult experience to market. Community Service Engineering doesn’t exactly scream to many of the engineering graduates. How can we show that this is something very valuable in a small marketing area? Also, should it be marketed to international students and national students differently. CSE is marketed to both while the current Postgraduate program only to national students.
I’m not sure how in-depth I will get with the marketing, but it is certainly on everyone’s mind.
This week I hope to gather more information about this program, so I can see how the most crucial parts of CSE (which I will start finding next weekend) can be integrated.