Inquiry-Based Learning in Undergraduate Engineering - Ivana Milanovic
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Inquiry-Based Learning in Undergraduate Engineering - Ivana Milanovic

Professor Ivana Milanovic has used problem–based and project-based learning in her classroom for years and now implements Inquiry Based Learning (IBL), which has become a popular approach in undergraduate engineering because it calls for students to envision a project or problem scenario and identify their own solutions --in ways that are more meaningful to them. With IBL, her undergraduate students are performing computer–based simulations usually reserved for the graduate level.


Junior level heat transfer and fluids classes now include a reasonable amount of research and simulation. IBL addresses the need for a broader strategy aimed at improving understanding of complex material, modeling skills, and research capabilities in the core thermo–fluids courses. It also endeavors to support students through varying ways of engaging in math, since the use of differential equations is critical to this study, and allows Milanovic to bring into her course immersive and exciting visuals that support in-depth learning.

In addition, Milanovic transformed her lecture courses into an integrated learning environment (face-to-face and online) with embedded simulations and application building. Learning modules provide step-by-step instruction with visuals, interactive simulations, and software tutorials. Theory and problems are covered in the classroom, while simulations are completed outside of class. This format makes accomplishing simulations exciting to students, thus making them more productive.

Her objectives are to:

  • Better illustrate thermo‐fluids concepts

  • Embed simulations and research in the curriculum

  • Facilitate application building

  • Use a combination of Project Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Based Learning (IBL)

  • Enhance on outside‐of‐classroom learning