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Digital Erasmus- Resilient Building Design using Performance Simulation

Funder: European CommissionProject code: 2020-1-AT01-KA226-HE-092643
Funded under: ERASMUS+ | Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices | Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness Funder Contribution: 167,828 EUR
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Digital Erasmus- Resilient Building Design using Performance Simulation

Description

The global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has forced universities to completely re-think their teaching concepts in order to allow safe, remote teaching of students off-campus. One of the challenges of this rapid transition is ensuring that the quality of the learning experience remains high and that students are able to engage and thrive in this new and predominantly digital environment.This project entitled ‘Digital Erasmus - a roadmap to using building performance simulation to achieve resilient design’ responds to this context by seeking to transform the learning experience of students in built environment disciplines. Our objective is to develop a dynamic, experiential methodology aimed at maximizing student engagement and learning opportunities in a digital and transnational environment. We hope to create an environment that encourages diversity and equality and promotes the inclusion and participation of under-represented groups. To achieve this, we plan to create a safe yet challenging learning environment that exposes students to new ways of thinking and working, one which provides a framework for likeminded people to get to know each other, to collaborate and to learn with and from each other, independently of their geographical location. Building performance and the future resilience of the built environment are the core themes of this program, which responds to the rapid and well documented transitions occurring in the Earth’s climatic, environmental and social conditions. Measurement, modelling and simulation are tools that can be used to futureproof our response to these challenges in the built environment. We aim to develop these skills by creating virtual test beds (linked to data from real buildings) so that students can explore existing designs and test the impact of their design decisions in relation to key performance indicators including: energy and indoor air quality (TU Graz), health and wellbeing (TU Delft) and moisture and future resilience (UoS). Building simulation is traditionally taught in a classroom setting with access to computer labs, where students learn how to use the software in direct contact with staff. In times of COVID-19 this is no longer possible. We are therefore targeting students who are enrolled in MSc programmes that include courses on building performance and resilience, but who are no longer able to participate in live classrooms activities. By doing so, we are taking into account both the current circumstances and the personal obstacles that students with disabilities might face in normal classroom settings as well as the barriers faced by those who cannot attend conventional classes (for a variety of other reasons). We expect to attract cohorts of about 20 MSc students in each partner university.In this context we propose a new pedagogical methodology that addresses the challenges of digital teaching but at the same time provides a platform for students to acquire the skills needed for a successful career. As part of this framework, three new modules (each taught by one of the partnering universities) are proposed to challenge students to work in interdisciplinary transnational teams, in a digital manner, across borders thereby offering some of the benefits of the classical Erasmus ‘year abroad’ experience. This approach is designed to facilitate experiential and peer-to-peer learning by promoting collaboration and cooperation on live projects beyond conventional barriers. The learning format combines live data-streams from real buildings, with the use of validated simulation models of the same buildings in order to create a highly realistic and interactive learning environment. This concept helps to overcome the barriers imposed by the absence of site-visits and studio tutorials, which have been a common feature of experiential learning in the built environment. This learning format is designed to immerse the students in real-world problem solving and experimentation, commensurate with the attainment outcomes of master’s level programs. The methodology, the teaching material and the data sets will be made accessible on a common web-based learning platform that will serve as an interactive teaching resource. Through our Digital Erasmus approach, the students will gain valuable additional experience in interdisciplinary working and critical thinking. Close links to the professional body of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA) will support the impact of this project by linking the IBPSA-academy and various other organisational activities to the work that is carried out within the student teams. This approach will create a pedagogical framework for a digital Erasmus learning experience which can be used as a roadmap for other programmes in the STEM sector to follow.

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