June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.102.1 - 22.102.5
A SPIRAL Learning Curriculum for Second Year Students in Mechanical EngineeringIn this course development project funded through an NSF CCLI Grant, we aredeveloping, implementing, and evaluating a new required integrated four-coursesequence taught in the first two years of our ME curriculum. The first year focuses ondesign methodology and computer programming, with an overarching theme ofrobotic/mechatronic systems. The new second-year courses replace traditional stand-alone courses in Numerical Methods and Thermodynamics, and emphasize sustainabilityin engineering. Each individual course teaches specific engineering science topics inaddition to design practice and methodology, computer-aided engineering skills, andprofessional engineering skills. Thus, our Student-driven Pedagogy of Integrated,Reinforced, Active Learning (SPIRAL) approach distributes the teaching of basicengineering knowledge and skills through multiple courses in order to enhance studentunderstanding through repetitive exposure at ever-increasing depths.This paper will focus on the new second-year course sequence, titled Introduction to theDesign of Sustainable Energy Systems. The first course of this sequence focuses onNumerical Methods, and builds directly on the programming experience obtained duringthe previous spring semester (as part of the new integrated first-year course sequence).The sustainable energy focus on wind and water power introduces the students to fluiddynamics through fluids-based examples in lecture and homework assignments. Themain engineering science topic of the spring semester course is Thermodynamics. Here,solar and thermal power are emphasized as sustainable energy solutions and highlightedin lecture and laboratory experiences.A team-based design project spirals reflects the sustainable energy theme (for example,an air-powered train). The project spirals the design methodology, communication,teamwork, programming, manufacturing and hardware skills acquired during the firstyear of our new curriculum. For example, students are introduced to the following newmanufacturing tools and techniques: CNC mill, CNC lathe, CNC router, vacuum formingand injection molding. The students continue to use Arduino microcontrollers and areintroduced to new sensing and actuation techniques. SolidWorks, which was a primaryfocus of the fall semester of the first year, is utilized in the design project, with thestudents learning advanced techniques such as flow modeling and finite element analysis.
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