June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
A Comprehensive Term Project for Materials Science Course
At the author’s institution, Materials Science is a required course for freshmen in Mechanical Engineering and an elective for other engineering majors. The course is the first engineering course for the most engineering students in the college and therefore it is challenging to explain some concepts and discuss the application of the course materials in their future study and career. It is well known that project based learning activities motivates the students to learn new concepts faster. These activities help students understand the application of the theory in real world. To help students engage in the class, a comprehensive term-long project was developed, which combines material testing, simple design for engineering applications, material selection for the design, and testing of the failure of the designed structure. In this project, students were required to select materials for the major components of an aircraft used for the SAE Aero Design Competition. Students selected materials with certain dimensions for five major components of the airframe, including rib, body spar, engine mount, payload box, and wing spar. Each component has different loading conditions and design requirements. The project includes three steps: 1) Material selection based on mechanics calculation of the material properties from online database to satisfy design constraints. Then design criteria using decision matrix were used to pick the best option. 2) Testing of the mechanical properties of selected materials. The material selections were verified and modified based on the test results. 3) The final design was tested and the results were presented in class. From this project-based learning experience, students not only learned the theory, but also gained hands-on experiences. This project changed the passive learning style of the material tests and calculation to active learning style. Students had more questions than just following instructions, as they had to think about how to do the experiments and solve the problem by themselves. Students designed their own structure based on the properties measured in the lab. While the project was a group work with a group of three students, all students contributed to the work based on their own strength. Within each group, leadership roles were rotated among group members for different task. A few assessments were implemented including small assignments such as lab reports and design calculations, written reports, presentations, peer evaluation on teamwork, and a survey. Student feedback indicates that overall students enjoy the experience and believe it should be continued in the future.
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