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A Problem-solving and Project-based Introduction to Engineering Technology Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Capstone and Design Projects in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.92.1 - 25.92.14

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Paper Authors


Biswajit Ray Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

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Biswajit Ray is a professor and Program Coordinator of the Electronics Engineering Technology program at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He is active in industrial consulting in the area of power electronics.

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A Problem-Solving and Project Based Introduction to Engineering Technology CourseThe proposed paper will present the design and implementation of a problem-solving and projectbased Introduction to Engineering Technology course offered to freshmen students in electronicsengineering technology and engineering science majors. The primary goal of this course is toimprove the quantitative problem solving skill of freshmen students during their first semester ofcollege experience. Outcome of this course is measured by students’ preparedness forsubsequent science, math, and engineering technology courses. This course also includes anumber of hands-on mini projects to introduce the concepts of engineering design,implementation, and testing in addition to formal report writing and collaborative group work.Based on student feedback over the past few years, and often contrary to common belief, it hasbeen determined that the best contribution an introductory engineering technology course canmake to incoming freshmen at our university is to help improve their quantitative and problemsolving skills often lacking due to non-rigorous math and science courses taken in high school.In view of this scenario, early part of the course focuses on engineering problem solving byintegrating the concepts from algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and vectors. Optimization ofsingle-variable problems is then introduced without using calculus concepts since most first-semester freshmen take pre-calculus as their first math course. Students are encouraged to usecommonly available computational tools such as calculator or spreadsheet application (e.g.,Microsoft Excel) to optimize engineering-specific variables of interest. Once the essentialmathematical skills are developed, additional engineering concepts are introduced with a focuson further strengthening students’ problem solving skillset. This is accomplished throughelectrical circuit analysis, analysis and synthesis of one-dimensional and two-dimensionalmotion, and fundamentals of engineering mechanics (primarily statics, stress, and strain).The hands-on aspects to engineering are an important part of this course as well. Typicallyworking in a group of two, students complete three mini projects: 1) design, construction, andtesting of a spaghetti bridge, 2) guided-design, prototyping, and testing of a wireless remotecontroller, and 3) prototyping and testing of a music box printed circuit board. Figures 1, 2, and3 in the next page show pictorial view of the spaghetti bridge test setup, wireless remote circuitschematic, and pictorial view of the prototyped music box, respectively. Engineering creativity,problem solving, teamwork, and formal report writing are emphasized through these miniprojects. Invited speakers from industry and field trip to an area industry are part of this courseas well.The full paper will present and discuss the specific objectives and associated outcomes for thisintroductory engineering technology course. Related direct and indirect assessment toolsincluding pre- and post-test results will be presented to validate the achievement of expectedoutcomes. The collected data will clearly show that this course is helping the freshmen studentsto pursue a career in engineering technology by improving their quantitative problem solvingskillset. Figure 1: Pictorial view of the spaghetti bridge test setup. PB Switch GP1UM28YK00F 1K (40 kHz Receiver) 15K 0.01 mF VCC CR2 D2 CK2 PR2 Q2 Q2 0.1 mF 6V 390 10 mF VCC DIS THR CTL 7474(= 4*1.5 V) 2.7K CR1 D1 CK1 PR1 Q1 Q1 GND 555C GND TRG OUT RST TSAL6100 150 (IR Emitter) 6V 33K 1000 pF (= 4*1.5 V) 2222A Figure 2: Circuit schematic of the 40 kHz wireless remote controller. Figure 3: Pictorial view of the music box printed circuit board prototype.

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