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A Hands-on, First-year Mechanical Engineering Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Design throughout the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mariappan Jawaharlal California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Mariappan Jawaharlal is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He has been recognized as an outstanding educator for his innovative and engaging teaching pedagogy. He has received numerous honors including Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in teaching and Innovative Educator Award. He is the founder and director of Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL), a unique K-12 outreach robotics program, which reaches thousands of students each year. This is the largest event of its kind in the nation, and it culminates in an Annual Robot Rally. The REAL initiative has inspired thousands of young students to pursue STEM education. He is a pioneer in developing engaging, online tutorials. He founded APlusStudent, an online supplemental K-12 education company in 1998, and developed over 800 interactive, learning modules. More recently He has been involved in CSU course redesign initiative focused on redesigning bottleneck courses with technology. His interests are in the fields of education, entrepreneurship, product design and biomimicry. He has been instrumental in bringing many new products to the market from mere concepts, He is a Fellow of Biomimicry Institute. He has over 20 years of industrial, academic & entrepreneurial experience. Before joining Cal Poly Pomona, I also served as a faculty at Rowan University, NJ and Kettering University, MI. He is passionate about education and focuses on K-16 and STEM education. He writes columns for Huffington Post on issues related to K-12 & higher education.

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Paul Morrow Nissenson California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Paul Nissenson (Ph.D. Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Irvine, 2009) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He teaches courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and numerical methods. Paul's research interests are studying the impact of technology in engineering education and computer modeling of atmospheric systems.

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Angela C. Shih California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Cal Poly Pomona is one of the only seven polytechnic universities in the nation and its College of Engineering graduates 1 of every 14 engineers in the state of California. Our engineering graduates are well-respected and employed by both large corporations and small businesses in California and around the country. There is a greater need today to educate our students with multi-disciplinary skills than ever before while we are still facing the challenge of recruiting and retaining engineering students. Researchers have studied these issues and one of the many challenges is the lack of preparation. The real preparation for engineering begins in high school. However, first year engineering courses can play a significant role in motivating and providing important skills to freshmen students. Numerous engineering educators have introduced innovative first year engineering courses focused on engaging students early on. ME 100L is an introductory engineering course required by all incoming mechanical engineering students at Cal Poly Pomona. It is a 1-unit course with a 3-hour lab each week. Approximately 400 incoming mechanical engineering students take this class every year. Since its inception almost two decades ago, ME 100L introduced students to the field of mechanical engineering and various career options, emphasized team work, and culminated in a rubber band car competition. The course was outdated and was long overdue for a change. With the introduction of a new first year experience course (EGR 100) common for all engineering students at Cal Poly Pomona, most of the topics of ME 100L have become redundant creating the opportunity to overhaul the course. Our students are called Net Generation. They are technology savvy, impatient and look for instant gratification. Additionally, they want to know the relevance of the material they are learning, making it difficult to frontload these students with information and telling them they will need this material later in their career. Our goal is to provide a meaningful hands-on experience to the student early in their education. We have completely redesigned ME 100L to excite our incoming first year students, provide them with a 100% hands-on experience and acquire useful and transferable skills. This paper presents our redesign efforts.

Jawaharlal, M., & Nissenson, P. M., & Shih, A. C. (2016, June), A Hands-on, First-year Mechanical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26331

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