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A First Year Introductory Engineering Course With A Design Component

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.12.1 - 4.12.12

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Paper Authors

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Roger Ruggles

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3253

A First Year Introductory Engineering Course with a Design Component

Roger Ruggles, Associate Professor, Lafayette College


This paper describes a first year introduction to engineering course and the various components that are combined to fulfill the objectives of the course. The introductory course has been a required course for the past four years for all entering first year engineers and has undergone an evolution in order to meet the needs of both the students and the engineering division. The course has the primary objectives of providing a meaningful design experience to the students and to provide each student with an understanding of the various fields within the engineering profession. In order to accomplish this, a design project was selected that incorporates each of the four engineering disciplines (Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Mechanical) offered at Lafayette College. The project was to design and construct a water monitoring device that can be submerged in a river and collect data for extended periods of time. The course is broken into four blocks each taught by a faculty member from each of the four engineering departments. A total of 162 students were divided into eight sections. Students rotate through each of the blocks developing a portion of their design project within a design team of about five students. Each block has three components which are lectures, laboratories and computer aided design (CAD). The components are used to develop the capabilities of the students in a particular field of engineering through classroom lecture and laboratory work then to apply the newly developed capabilities to the design project. The final product of each block is a completed portion of the project through both the design and constructed phase. The final week of the semester is dedicated to the assembly, calibration and testing of the design project. Students make final oral presentations and submit a final written report on their project including both shop and final assembly drawings prepared during the semester on CAD.

Course evaluations conducted in part to address ABET 2000 Criteria(1), indicate that the objectives of the course have been met and students are in addition developing a sense of the engineering diversity within design projects.


Experience obtained through advising sessions with students, has shown that most entering first year engineering students do not have an understanding of the various fields of engineering nor the engineering design process. In order to provide exposure to each of these topics a required course was adopted for all engineering majors at Lafayette College in the Fall, 1995 semester. The initial offerings of this course provided a design

Ruggles, R. (1999, June), A First Year Introductory Engineering Course With A Design Component Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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