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A Practice Integrated Undergraduate Curriculum In Mechanical Engineering

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Approaches to Active Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

13.81.1 - 13.81.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4234

Download Count

66

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Paper Authors

biography

Mark Yim University of Pennsylvania

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Mark Yim is the Gabel Family Term Junior Professor in Mechanical Engineering and MEAM Undergraduate Curriculum Chair. His research interests include: Modular reconfigurable robots and locomotion, PolyBot; flying robotic mechanisms and haptic devices.

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Katherine Kuchenbecker University of Pennsylvania

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Katherine J. Kuchenbecker is the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of
Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University
of Pennsylvania. Her primary research interest is the design and control of
haptic interfaces for virtual environments and teleoperation. She earned
her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering in June of 2006 at Stanford
University, where she also completed Master's and Bachelor's degrees in the
same field.

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Paulo Arratia University of Pennsylvania

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Paulo Arratia is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department. His current research interests include:
Micro- and Nanofluidics: confinement effects, drop breakup & formation
Soft-Condensed Matter & Complex Fluids: polymeric & biological fluids, colloidal suspensions, emulsions, granular media, biophysics
Transport Phenomena: hydrodynamics instabilities, chaotic advection, nonlinear phenomena, rheology

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Vijay Kumar University of Pennsylvania

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Vijay Kumar, is the Department Chair and UPS Foundation Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. His
research interests: Robotics, dynamics of systems with frictional contacts, actively coordinated mobility systems, mechanism design and control.

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biography

John Bassani University of Pennsylvania

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John Bassani is the Richard H. and S. L. Gabel Professor of
Mechanical Engineering; Professor of Materials Science and
Engineering. His current research interests include:? the
relationship between properties of discrete and continuous media,
adhesion and interfacial mechanics, formation and properties of
nanostructures, mechanics of living cells, plastic deformation of
crystals and polycrystals, and mechanics of fracture and fatigue.

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biography

Jonathan Fiene University of Pennsylvania

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Jonathan Fiene is a Lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department. He received his
Doctor of Philosophy in 2007 from Stanford University, with a
dissertation: "Toward Realistic Haptic Interactions with Virtual Rigid Objects: Low-Level Dynamics and Event-Based Algorithms." His teaching areas include mechatronics, robotics, and design of mechanical systems among others.

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Jennifer Lukes University of Pennsylvania

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Jennifer R. Lukes, is the William K. Gemmill Term Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department.
Her research interests include: Molecular dynamics simulation, molecular mechanical engineering, micro/nanoscale heat transfer.

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

A Practice-Integrated Undergraduate Curriculum in Mechanical Engineering Abstract

Project-based and experiential learning is becoming increasingly important in engineering education. When recently surveyed, a majority of the students in a junior-year class at the University of Pennsylvania stated that they learned more from a particular course that had a strong lab component than from any other college class. This student belief may stem from the internal confirmation of understanding that hands-on work provides. Students seem to gain confidence when they are able to apply class material successfully to real-world systems, rather solving text book problems on paper. It is not yet clear where the critical learning takes place, whether in the lab or in the associated lecture, but it is obvious from our experience that laboratory work catalyzes student understanding and excitement about mechanical engineering.

Based on student feedback and our belief in the value of project-based and experiential learning, we have developed a practice-integrated mechanical engineering curriculum that spans the full four-year undergraduate experience. Our goal is to ingrain theoretical concepts and develop independent student thinking by gradually incorporating design into laboratory activities; by exposing students to systems and applications before developing all of the relevant theoretical concepts; and by motivating students to appreciate the importance and relevance of the theory by directly applying it in projects.

This curriculum incorporates three principal educational strategies. First, our laboratory classes provide a steady progression of skills and independence, from freshman through junior year. Second, many concepts are taught in a top-down framework, which exposes students to relevant physical systems and practical applications before they have been taught the specific theoretical concepts. Third, lecture material is formulated to support the laboratory activities, in contrast to the traditional approach where laboratory exercises are decoupled from or tangential to the lectures.

In this paper, we describe the specifics of our practice-integrated curriculum, using examples from basic engineering science classes that have been redesigned to try to provide a more meaningful learning experience for our students. A steady increase in enrollment numbers and positive feedback from student evaluations demonstrate the benefits of this curriculum.

Introduction

Laboratory and project-oriented teaching1 is becoming more prevalent in engineering. Project- oriented instruction can ingrain theoretical concepts by challenging students to apply theory in design settings where they must think for themselves. We believe that it is projects that students relate to and indeed depend on in order to understand the importance of what they are taught.

Although basic science, mathematics, and the other principles taught at the early undergraduate level have not undergone significant changes, the applications of these fundamentals are changing quickly. Viewed broadly as paradigm shifts in technology, the pace of these changes is

Yim, M., & Kuchenbecker, K., & Arratia, P., & Kumar, V., & Bassani, J., & Fiene, J., & Lukes, J. (2008, June), A Practice Integrated Undergraduate Curriculum In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4234

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