If you entered Mount Royal College in Calgary through the
east gate in early September, you may have been asked to step
aside - or risk having an egg dropped on your head. The now
infamous Egg Drop was under way, at the hands and on the minds
of first-year students in a new course in engineering design
The two-semester transfer course, offered at both the University
of Calgary and Mount Royal College, is designed to be fun
and interactive. It's based on the real, day-to-day activities
of professional engineers. Projects are presented as open-ended
design problems, sometimes with specified design criteria
and sometimes without.
Students are expected to take responsibility for their own
learning by asking questions, identifying appropriate resources,
and evaluating themselves and their peers. Other skills include
drafting, sketching, technical writing and teamwork.
The course is non-traditional in that students are asked
to function as a team with minimal guidance from instructors.
"The goal is to foster independent thinking, application
of imagination, and interest in the practice of engineering
across all disciplines," says Janice Miller-Young, P.Eng.,
a Mount Royal College engineering instructor. "The course
challenges students by requiring them to apply multidisciplinary
knowledge, skills and creativity to the problem-solving process."
Teachers take a team approach as well, says Ms. Miller-Young.
She's joined by two other engineering instructors, and the
three are from different backgrounds. Also on the team are
a technical writing expert and, to help develop sketching
skills, an interior design instructor.
About 120 students enrolled this year and the first semester
is now over. "I can proudly say that many have risen
to the challenge and even exceeded our expectations,"
says Ms. Miller-Young.
MRC staff worked closely with U of C design instructors in
developing the course, and continue to participate in their
planning meetings. Both institutions are offering the course
for the first time. "The design projects are different
between the two institutions but the goals and format of the
design programs are the same," says Ms. Miller-Young.
The first project at Mount Royal College was the Egg Drop.
Given 70 minutes, as well as and 50 MRCles (Mount Royal College
dollars) to buy materials from their instructor, teams of
four students were asked to design and build an egg container.
The container had to drop 18 feet to a tile floor, preferably
without its cargo cracking.
Designs were marked on egg integrity and container accuracy,
style and simplicity. A range of design concepts was the result,
from parachutes to impact-absorbing bumpers.
At an orientation night for new students, a design competition
had students using 10 sheets of newspaper and 16 inches of
masking tape to build a frame. The catch? The whole team had
to fit within it.
Reach Janice Miller-Young at