A Challenge-Based Learning Intensive Course for Competency Development in Undergraduate Engineering Students: Case Study on UAVs

Luis C. Félix-Herrán*, Carlos Izaguirre-Espinosa, Vicente Parra-Vega, Anand Sánchez-Orta, Victor H. Benitez, Jorge De J. Lozoya-Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Accelerated advances in science and technology drive the need for professionals with flexible problem-solving abilities towards a collaborative working environment. The advances pose a challenge to educational institutions about how to develop learning environments that contribute to meeting the aforementioned necessity. Additionally, the fast pace of technology and innovative knowledge are encouraging universities to employ challenge-based-learning (CBL) approaches in engineering education supported by modern technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other advanced electronic devices. Within the framework of competency-based education (CBE) and CBL are the design, implementation, and evaluation of an intensive 40 h elective course which includes a 5-day challenge to promote the development of disciplinary and transversal competencies in undergraduate engineering students whilst relying on UAVs as the medium where the teaching– learning process takes place. Within this credit course, a case study was carried out considering the framework of an exploratory mixed-methods educational research approach that sought a broad understanding of the studied phenomena using various data collection instruments with quantitative and qualitative characteristics. An innovative academic tool was introduced, namely a thematic UAV platform that systematically exposed students to the principles underlying robotic systems and the scientific method, thereby stimulating their intellectual curiosity as a trigger to solve the posed challenge. Moreover, students came up with innovative teamwork-based solutions to a designed challenge while having an enjoyable and motivating time flying drones on an indoor obstacle course arranged by themselves. The preliminary findings may contribute to the design of other CBL experiences, supported by technology applied for educational purposes, which could promote the development of more disciplinary and transversal competencies in future engineers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1349
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • I-week
  • challenge-based learning
  • educational innovation
  • educational robotics
  • higher education
  • intellectual curiosity
  • unmanned aerial vehicles


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