Methods that promote multidisciplinary studies
The Master’s degree programme in civil and mechanical engineering is directly linked to the role played by mechanical civil engineers. They are at the centre of today’s industries (such as robotics, transportation, energy production, micro medical devices, and space shuttles). Mechanical engineers must design diverse products like instruments, vehicles, and machines or even bigger systems. They must also design manufacturing procedures for these products. Finally, they play a leading role in the organisation, control, upkeep and maintenance of production systems. Versatility is necessary for working in sectors such as aeronautics, energy, metallurgy, petrochemistry, automobiles and biomechanics.
The educational programme for civil and mechanical engineering is thus by nature versatile. On the one hand, the field of mechanics is vast and is linked to the majority of other engineering fields most notably electricity, materials, chemistry, civil engineering, automation and modelling. On the other hand, students gain specialised skills in an engineering field while retaining solid scientific and technical credentials. This is due to the inclusive nature of engineering majors and the flexibility that characterises each student’s course schedule. Furthermore, students have the option of taking courses in non-technical fields.
The research skills of the teaching team are extremely varied and range from advanced numerical simulation to aspects of energy to design techniques. Unquestionably UCL provides a wealth of education to its students. The Master’s thesis (graduation project) is often the last multidisciplinary project. It is possible to choose one’s advisor from among all the professors of the Louvain School of Engineering or to carry out the project at another institution such as the Von Karman Institute.
Various teaching strategies
The pedagogical approach is the same as that of the Bachelor’s degree programme in engineering sciences: active learning, an equal mix of team work and individual work, and emphasis on the development of non-technical skills. An important characteristic of the programme in mechanics is the immersion of students in their professors’ research laboratories, which educate students through the questioning process inherent in research.
The programme prioritises projects, including a large scale project that puts groups of students in semi-professional situations. These projects promote students’ critical thinking skills, which in turn allows them to design, model, realise and validate a prototype. Furthermore, in the Small and Medium Sized Business Creation major, students complete group projects as part of multidisciplinary teams throughout the duration of their Master’s degree program.
In the last year of the programme, half of the time is devoted to the graduation project, which offers students the possibility of studying a given subject in-depth and provides an introduction to the actual working life of an engineer or researcher (thanks to the size of the project and the context within which it is carried out). This project is based on a theme related to one or several of the fundamental disciplines in mechanics at the Louvain School of Engineering or the Von Karman Institute. It may also be directly linked to a company. Finally, for students majoring in Small and Medium Sized Business Creation, the graduation project has a multidisciplinary design with the goal allowing groups of three students, ideally from different academic departments, to work on a business creation project.
Diverse learning situations
Students will be confronted with various pedagogical tools adapted to different disciplines: lectures, projects, exercise sessions, problem solving sessions, case studies, experimental laboratories, internships in industry or research, group as well as individual work, and seminars. In certain areas, eLearning permits students to learn at their own pace and to carry out virtual experiments.
These diverse learning situations develop interdisciplinary skills as well as those that are non-technical. Thus, students acquire knowledge in a progressive manner all the while developing their independence, organisational and time management skills as well as their ability to communicate.