June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.95.1 - 26.95.19
A reflection on the process of selecting, developing, and launching a new design project in a large-scale introduction to engineering design course Providing first-year engineering majors with an opportunity to experience engineeringthrough a project-based design course has become an important curricular element in manyengineering degree programs. The introduction to engineering design course at the authors’home institution, a large state-supported research university, has an annual enrollment of about1200 students. Fifteen different faculty members teach one or more of the 30 sections of thecourse offered in a typical year. Most faculty members have been teaching this course formultiple years and over time have become very familiar with the design project, the instructionalmaterials developed, and, likely to a fault, what student design concepts have worked in the pastand which have failed. While the product specifications have been changed each semester torequire unique student designs, the course model in place for the last eight years has required allstudents to design, build, and test an autonomous hovercraft. As could and should be expected,both the faculty and the students have grown somewhat tired with a design project that has onlychanged in small ways each semester. This paper provides a reflection on the process of selecting, developing, and launching anew design project. The new project, an autonomous over sand vehicle (OSV), was carefullyselected and developed over a two-year period. The OSV project is being taught for the firsttime during the fall 2014 semester to all students enrolled in the authors’ introduction toengineering design course. The initial OSV project development was completed by a facultyfocus group tasked with selecting the next project concept and demonstrating a proof of concept.The following year, two teams of senior engineering majors were assigned the project concept aspart of a senior projects in engineering semi-structured research experiences course. Followingthe successful demonstration of two vehicles designed and built by senior engineering majors atthe end of the spring 2014 semester, it was decided to launch the OSV project effectiveimmediately for all first-year students. The course is currently being taught for the first time andlessons learned are informing future development. The team of faculty teaching the course meetweekly to generate, review, discuss, and reflect on the instructional content and projectrequirements. This paper will provide a practitioners’ account that details the successes, missteps, andlessons learned in transitioning to a new design project. The reflection will be supported bymultiple sources of data. This data includes (1) field notes from weekly discussions with facultyand/or undergraduate teaching assistants assigned to teach the new course, (2) field notes fromstudent focus groups, (3) the authors’ reflection and assessment of teaching the new course, and(4) student survey and end-of-semester course evaluations. The collection of this data isunderway; no results can be shared at the time of the abstract submission.
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