Research-based learning: a case study for engineering students
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© 2019, The Author(s).An implementation of the research-based learning (RBL) model and methodologies for undergraduate Computational Engineering students at Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico City Campus was undertaken to highlight the importance of involving undergraduate students in professional research activities early in their career (curriculum). We present here the results of this study. Four phases of the project are described: (1) a diagnosis of initial RBL competencies of students; (2) the presentation of an introductory workshop on research methodology by the teacher; (3) the design of a monograph by the students; and (4) the preparation of a research project by the students, including a sketch of a research paper and a written and oral presentation to a jury of staff research professors. The objective of the project was the design and evaluation of algorithms of Data Science, Big Data and Deep Learning to perform a data processing analysis related to the problem of metabolic syndrome and its surrogates in Mexico. The results indicate that the initial research competencies of undergraduate students are insufficient, although about 50% of the students think the contrary. The students were able to work in teams during the semester, and most teams, guided by the instructor, were capable of developing appropriate monographs and high-quality sketches for their proposed research papers. In most cases, students showed great improvements in their RBL skills in doing extensive literature reviews and in performing appropriate statistical analyses of databases. This work supports the contention that it is particularly important to start developing RBL competencies early in undergraduate engineering careers in order to prepare undergraduate students for future graduate studies as well as for their professional lives.