Many engineering tasks are supported by tools based on innovative technologies. Powerful tools for computer aided design, simulations or programming permit a wide range of possibilities for engineers in solving complex problems. However, using these tools commonly requires extensive training or specific skills.
Specialized systems that enable tool and technology usage could support novices in solving engineering tasks using embedded knowledge, lowering the hurdle of expertise required for operation.
In the presented case study, knowledge-integrating systems inspired by knowledge-based engineering were developed to allow pupils to solve an engineering challenge without existing skills or prior training. To provide a realistic application context, a teaching module was developed, introducing high school students to product engineering in the form of a conceive-design-implement-operate experience with the learning goal to engage them in the STEM field. Solving the included engineering challenge required the creation, test and iteration of designs for laser cut and additive manufacturing, and code processing sensor signals for motor actuation.
To evaluate the knowledge-integrating systems in their use qualitatively, a trial run was conducted. Participants were enabled to fulfil basic product engineering tasks and expressed engagement in product development and overall satisfaction.
The module’s key element is an educational exoskeleton that can be controlled by electromyography signals. It is modified to eventually support a fictional character suffering from monoplegia. The module was realized accompanying the CYBATHLON, a championship for people with physical disabilities in solving everyday tasks assisted by state-of-the-art technical systems.