Terri-Jane Yuzda

Students set up for the egg drop at the start of their Mount Royal College semester.

Transfer Students
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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 and communication.

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

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