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A First-year Project-based Design Course with Management Simulation and Game-based Learning Elements

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 5: Using Video, Games, and More in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.40.1 - 26.40.16



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Paper Authors


Daniel D. Anastasio University of Connecticut

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Daniel Anastasio received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2009. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Connecticut while acting as a co-instructor for the chemical engineering capstone laboratory and the first-year foundations of engineering course. His research interests include osmotically driven membrane separations and engineering pedagogy.

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Malgorzata Chwatko University of Connecticut

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Daniel D. Burkey University of Connecticut

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Jeffrey Ryan McCutcheon

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A First-Year Project-Based Design Course with Management Simulation and Game-Based Learning ElementsMany first-year engineering courses are adopting a project-based structure, where students orgroups of students build and/or design a device to solve a problem. This structure allowsstudents to learn the iterative design process experientially, which students often find moreengaging than traditional lectures and transmission model instruction. The chemical engineeringsection of a first-year engineering foundations class was run as a project-based class for the firsttime in the spring 2014 semester. Students were tasked to complete three design-build-testprojects in the semester: a thermos, a water filter, and a chemical reaction powered vehicle.Each project had unique goals to force students to consider different aspects of design.In addition to being project-based, this class also incorporated management simulations andgame-based learning elements. Students were split into teams and were given a budget of in-class currency of for each project. The in-class currency was used to buy all supplies needed tobuild a device. Major deliverables in the class were a project pitch report, a progress report, anda final presentation of the completed device (either via PowerPoint or a poster). All final deviceswere then tested and would compete to see which had designed the best device, as dictated by arubric. There were other optional goals to achieve and, which varied from project-to-project,ranging from writing easy-to-follow assembly instructions for the water filter to building a carthat could carry the most simulated “passengers” for the vehicle design. All competition-relatedfeats were optional and would award students with reputation points, which they could use laterin the semester to boost their final course grades.Based on observations during design periods and student responses to a pre- and post-semesterattitudes survey, students appeared to favor the project-based approach with simulation and gameelements. Students felt more confident in their presentation and teamwork skills uponcompletion of this class. Some students expressed concerns about aspects of the class, includingthe amount of time needed to attend out-of-class design periods and the material covered inlectures. Some of their concerns were addressed in a simplified version of the car design projectrun as a project for high school students in the summer. This paper will conclude with howstudent feedback from the semester and during the summer will inform the way this class is runin future semesters.

Anastasio, D. D., & Chwatko, M., & Burkey, D. D., & McCutcheon, J. R. (2015, June), A First-year Project-based Design Course with Management Simulation and Game-based Learning Elements Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23381

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