June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.17.1 - 13.17.13
A COMMON DESIGN-BUILD-TEST PROJECT INCORPORATING FRESHMAN AND SENIOR UNDERGRADUATE ANALYSIS SKILLS
In depth discussion is presented on a project created to develop student appreciation for engineering analytical skills developed during a four year Mechanical Engineering program. The unique project, which required students to lift a floating weight out of the water using a floating machine of their own design, was developed and used in a concurrently run freshman statics course and a senior machine design course. Encouragement of student interaction between seniors and freshmen was used to emphasize how much students had learned over the course of their undergraduate study.
Students in each level were given a similar need statement. Advanced students were given less background information, fewer constraints, and assigned more deliverables which allowed more room for design failure. The goal was to demonstrate that designs may be constructed without significant analysis yet greater insight can be derived using analytical tools.
The motivation for this project was the observed reluctance of many students to applying analytical concepts covered in previous courses to their design projects. The authors observed students often expressing frustration over the replacement of what they considered fun, calculation free, design projects in lower level courses with calculation intensive projects in upper level classes. The earlier projects, aimed at increasing student interest in engineering, were often free of analysis requirements. Some students commented that calculations prevented flexibility and creativity. They seemed to translate this into a lack of applicability of their analytical courses to practical design, or at worst to a cruel ‘bait and switch’ on the part of academia. The goal of this project was to give students a greater appreciation for analytical tools developed in different courses.
Mechanical Engineering students at the US Coast Guard Academy follow a course of study focused on the development of design and problem solving skills. Students in all majors are required to take “Statics and Engineering Design (SED)” during their first year. Mechanical Engineering students then take Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design (IMED), which introduces open-ended problem solving and basic CAD and manufacturing skills. Sophomore and junior years are focused on analysis based courses, such as Mechanics of Materials and Thermodynamics, in preparation for those requiring integrated knowledge in their senior year, such as Experimental Methods, Machine Design, and Controls.
Lab periods in the senior Machine Design course are dedicated to preparing students for their final capstone design project through participation in a common design, build, and test exercise. Machine Design projects focused on only the course at hand may help enforce a notion that classes are not integrated. Many projects at the Coast Guard Academy included need statements requiring design of small table top models using basic machine components such as gears, pulleys, belts, and chains. Unfortunately the power sources were often battery powered DC
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