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A Holistic Review Of Mechanical Design Curriculum In An Engineering Technology Program

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Mechanical Design and Projects

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.47.1 - 12.47.13

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Paper Authors


Jyhwen Wang Texas A&M University

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Jyhwen Wang joined the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University in 2001 after working 10 years as a researcher and R&D manager in steel industry. He teaches mechanical design applications and his research interest is in the areas of mechanical design and material processing technology. He received his Ph. D. degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University.

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Richard Harris Sandia National Laboratories

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Rick Harris is Manager of Mechanical Design within the Weapons Engineering division of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rick has twenty two years of experience in engineering design, build, test, modeling and simulation, as well as software development. He is experienced in organizational leadership, project and program management, and information systems development. Rick has a special interest in developing organizations to align with the needs of the business invigorated with professional development of the staff. Rick has a Mater’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

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A Holistic Review of Mechanical Design Curriculum in An Engineering Technology Program Abstract

In most of the mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology programs, mechanical design is a critical course for students to acquire the knowledge and skill in design of mechanical components and systems. While the course contents generally include important topics, such as failure theories and machine elements, a holistic mechanical design education should also address the interdependency between various subjects related to mechanical design. The subject of mechanical design should be viewed as an “integrated curriculum,” not an isolated course. As a result of a professional development project with the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) program at Texas A&M University (TAMU) has embarked on a critical review of its mechanical design curriculum. This paper presents the collaboration between TAMU and SNL on the education development project, the on-going curriculum review of mechanical design courses, and the initial findings and recommendations for the MMET program at TAMU. The methodology in this study can be used as a continuous improvement process for engineering technology education.

1. Introduction

The typical mechanical engineering technology curriculum consists of a mechanical design course or sequence. Taken during the junior and/or senior years, these courses carry titles such as Mechanical Design, Machine Design, Machine Element Design, and Mechanical System Design. In this context, design means to create a component or a system to meet the desired functional requirements. Thus, the objective of the course is to provide the concepts, methodologies, knowledge, analytical skills, and decision-making techniques necessary to design mechanical parts (components), devices, and systems. Building upon the students’ knowledge of statics, dynamics, and strength of materials, the course Fundamentals of Mechanical Design often focuses on the topics of design methodology, stress analysis, failure theories, and material selections. The course in machine design introduces the theories and application of machine elements such as gears, bearing, springs, fasteners.

Real-world design requires designers to have a broad knowledge base and skill set. A designer has to be able to visualize the spatial relationship of components, to use computer-aided design (CAD) tools to communicate design concepts, to specify dimensions and tolerances, and to identify appropriate processes for part manufacturing. In addition, mechanical designers are often expected to conduct stress analysis and selection materials, to estimate costs, to manage multiple projects, and to work effectively on a team. In the academic world, a cluster of knowledge is grouped into courses for efficient learning of these subjects [1]. It is clear that the task of mechanical design can only be accomplished with the knowledge and skill acquired from various courses. Thus, a capstone design course is commonly in place for students to acquire integrating experience. Efforts have been made to develop different approaches to the capstone course, and the format and the implementation of the course vary from institution to institution [2-8]. While the capstone course can better prepare students to enter the work force, the effort seems too little too late. Other than the prerequisites specified for relevant courses, a holistic

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