The Master's Thesis (TFM) is a fundamental element of the students’ educational process. It allows them to develop an individual research project (under the supervision of a tutor who may or may not be a teacher of the master's degree) on a selected topic in any field of research related to the teaching contents of the master.
In particular, the MEINS contemplates a compulsory TFM of 9 ECTS, equivalent to 225 hours of work in a context of professionalizing masters.
The TFM involves the completion of unpublished theoretical work, of a theoretical and / or applied nature, in which the knowledge and skills acquired during the master's degree studies must be applied in an integrated way. The multidisciplinary and transversal nature of both the MEINS, and the student academic profile can lead to the realization of also innovative TFMs from the pedagogical point of view.
The development of the TFM includes the following stages:
• Initial MEINS informative session in which the overall objectives of the master's degree and of the timetable for the preparation of the TFM, are explained.
• Specific information session on the TFM, aimed at guiding students in their choice of subject and tutor.
• Although the students will have begun to define their work beforehand, after completing the evaluation of the face-to-face modules, their dedication will be exclusively to the TFM.
Objects of interest:
Social transformation projects potentially relevant for a TFM can stem from ideas and methodologies:
1. Related to the education of the different degrees and postgraduates of origin of the students, taking into account that all the students will have developed a Final Project - TFG- in their educational field of reference.
2. Linked to the initiatives and challenges that the different public administrations, companies, cooperatives, foundations, associations, and labor insertion companies propose to the students of the masters as part of their social development strategy, which could have an answer qualified and transversal on the part of the students through the TFMs of the MEINS.
3. Linked to the initiatives and challenges proposed by the university. Entrepreneurship and social innovation need to be able to influence the university itself. Therefore, the TFM can be linked to projects that can change the university itself (creating student service cooperatives, or developing projects in circular economy or bio-construction are examples of the possibilities offered by the different UAB campuses).
In terms of methodology, either a more traditional structure can be used, or a more innovative approach can be used in the TFM as a response to any challenge of social transformation that the students want to contribute to solving.
Open innovation processes are based on collective intelligence, which, as the name implies, arises from the collaboration of several people. Thus, if teams of students with different academic backgrounds are formed, a specific challenge can be tackled from different perspectives. This opens up possibilities for solving the challenges that a more traditional approach might not allow. In order to carry out this process, four stages of work development can be distinguished:
1. The analysis of opportunities or the identification of the challenge to be solved.
[Probably the most complicated part of the process, in which the students have to work on the question or challenge that motivates them or that they are challenged to solve].
2. The idea laboratory, where the process of proposing different ideas and / or solutions to solve these questions or challenges begins.
3. The co-creation process, in which everything that results from the idea laboratory will be protocolized or prototyped.
[An iterative process may take place, successively leading from point (1) to (3)].
4. Lastly, the design and establishment of communication guidelines. Since, having a good protocol or prototype, such as having tools of dissemination and persuasion, allows transformation and social innovation projects to be accepted by society.
In this sense, the development of the new "UAB-Labs" is a fundamental part of carrying out this process of open innovation. These must be meeting spaces that provide the required infrastructure to the students (not only digital fabrication tools, but also a space for interaction with other agents) for the completion of their projects.
In the case of conducting a joint TFM, from the academic point of view, each member of the team will have to defend their individual contribution, in the form of their own TFM, to the joint project or to the team resolution of the initially faced challenge.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that the official nature of the MEINS enables the possibility of carrying out an Industrial Doctorate. In this case, the projects and challenges worked on as a whole of the master's degree (including external placements and the TFM) could be continued, giving them an increased academic focus and focused on applied research.