"Profiles in PBL" is a web database where PBL engineering programs from around the world share the details of their PBL programs. Our goal is to showcase more than 100 PBL profiles. The profiles will serve as inspiration for PBL programs to learn from one another and for engineering educators world-wide who are considering PBL. This database has been developed in collaboration between The Aalborg UNESCO Centre and Iron Range Engineering, Itasca Community College.

Technische Universität Darmstadt

KI²VA Study Projects


Darmstadt, Germany



Dr. Andrea Dirsch-Weigand

Study Projects Coordinator

How would you describe your PBL?


What is most important to your PBL?


How is PBL implemented?

12 of 13 faculties have implemented interdisciplinary projects in the introductory study phase. In engineering sciences, the projects are the start of a spine of design courses in the bachelor’s as well as in the master’s degree.

How do students acquire principles of discipline?

Students learn disciplinary fact and method knowledge in lectures, seminars and tutorials. In the projects, they transform theoretical knowledge of facts and methods into practical skills for interdisciplinary problem solving.

How is student learning facilitated within PBL?

Students are responsible for the project process. They are supported by facilitators and experts. There are two types of facilitators in the projects: technical and team facilitators. Technical facilitators are mainly scientific staff from the faculties and advise the student teams on technical problem solving. Team facilitators are students of various disciplines who have been intensely trained over one semester by the Center for Educational Development. They advise on effective teamwork, especially on moderation of work processes and interdisciplinary cooperation. Experts are professors or professionals who give technical input at the start of a study project and are available for a limited talk time during the study project for interviews and discussions.

Program Overview

Institution Type:


Degree Type:

ISCED 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education

Program Length:

Semesters in which PBL is Used:

Semesters 1-3

Hours per week on Project:


PBL Overview

Problem structure:

Very unstructured

Formulation of problems:

Problems are formulated by the faculties. Professors and academic staff formulate a challenging, open-ended and socially relevant task which can only be solved collaboratively with different types of expertise and constructive teamwork. Examples: Design of an Information System for Refugee Camps – Structural development of an abandoned railway – Design of an Autonomous Garbage Collection System for the Oceans – Biological Engineering Design for a Vaccination Mosquito

Team composition selection:

Academic staff

Projects assigned by:

Academic staff

How is space dedicated to student teams for problem/project completion?

Degree of Interdisciplinarity:


Role of instructor:


Unique Features

Interdisciplinary projects (engineering and natural sciences, arts and humanities)

Introductory phase of studies

Wide variety of organization possibilities (project week, semester project, combined schedules)

Facilitation by technical as well as team advisers

2000 participating students/year

Normally, the project courses are blocked (project week). Student teams work in rooms owned by the team for the project time.

Assessment Methods

Written Exams

Oral Exams

How assessment is implemented :

Group assessment only