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A Reflection on the Process of Selecting, Developing, and Launching a New Design Project in a Large-scale Introduction to Engineering Design Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 2: Design in the First Year: Challenges and Successes

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.95.1 - 26.95.19



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Paper Authors


Kevin Calabro University of Maryland, College Park

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Kevin Calabro is Keystone Instructor and Associate Director in the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

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Ayush Gupta University of Maryland, College Park

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Ayush Gupta is Research Assistant Professor in Physics and Keystone Instructor in the A. J. Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. Broadly speaking he is interested in modeling learning and reasoning processes. In particular, he is attracted to fine-grained analysis of video data both from a micro-genetic learning analysis methodology (drawing on knowledge in pieces) as well as interaction analysis methodology. He has been working on how learners' emotions are coupled with their conceptual and epistemological reasoning. He is also interested in developing models of the dynamics of categorizations (ontological) underlying students' reasoning in physics. Lately, he has been interested in engineering design thinking, how engineering students come to understand and practice design.

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Jackelyn Raquel Lopez Roshwalb University of Maryland, College Park

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Jackelyn Lopez Roshwalb is an instructor with the Keystone Program in the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

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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.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015