Asee peer logo

A Roller Coaster Project as Part of an Undergraduate Dynamics Course in Mechanical Engineering

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session


Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.104.1 - 26.104.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Andrew R. Sloboda Bucknell University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Andrew Sloboda is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University where he teaches a variety of mechanics-based courses, including solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, dynamics, system dynamics, and vibration. His research interests lie primarily in the fields of nonlinear dynamics, vibration, and fluid-structure interaction.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A Roller Coaster Project as Part of an Undergraduate Dynamics Course in Mechanical EngineeringAbstractUndergraduate dynamics courses in mechanical engineering are typically structured aroundstudents solving numerous textbook-style problems in order to increase their proficiency atanalyzing different scenarios involving dynamics concepts. However, students may not see howthe same concepts can be useful in open-ended, design-oriented settings. To remedy thisshortcoming and to help students synthesize material from different topics within dynamics, aroller coaster design project has been developed and incorporated into an undergraduatedynamics class.This roller coaster project allows the students to investigate and creatively apply their analyticskills to an ambiguous, real-world problem that they are highly motivated to explore. It bothreinforces the underlying curriculum and also helps students develop intellectually, as the projectis designed to teach that dynamics isn’t so much about looking for the “right answer” as it isabout choices and simplifications made in modeling reality.Although roller coaster design projects have been used as the basis of entire undergraduatecourses and also in STEM activities for pre-college students, the author is unaware of a similarproject being included as part of a first course in dynamics. For this project, students in teams ofthree were tasked with designing, analyzing, and simulating a roller coaster over the course of asemester during one of the four instructional hours allotted each week. This paper details theorganization of the project and the methods by which the students were assessed. It also includesdata regarding student perceptions of the project, specifically how much the project helped themlearn to apply basic dynamics concepts, work in teams, and develop analytic skills of valueoutside of the classroom.

Sloboda, A. R. (2015, June), A Roller Coaster Project as Part of an Undergraduate Dynamics Course in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23445

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