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A SPIRAL Learning Curriculum for Second Year Students in Mechanical Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.102.1 - 22.102.5



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Paper Authors

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R. Roemer University of Utah


Debra J. Mascaro University of Utah

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Debra J. Mascaro is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. She holds a B.A. in Physics from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She teaches freshman design and senior-/graduate-level classes in microscale
engineering and organic electronics.

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Eric R. Pardyjak University of Utah

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Eric Pardyjak is currently an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. He received his B.S. degree from Michigan State University, his M.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his Ph.D. degree from Arizona State University. He teaches courses in numerical methods, fluid mechanics and thermal systems design and has interest in integrating concepts developed in multidisciplinary research into the engineering curriculum.

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Stacy Bamberg University of Utah

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Stacy J. Morris Bamberg is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. She received her S.B. and S.M. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her Sc.D. in Medical Engineering from the joint Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She teaches the required freshman design sequence, the required junior mechatronics sequence, and electives in musculoskeletal functional anatomy for engineers and medical instrumentation and physiology. She is interested in the use of technology in the classroom and improving student outcomes through hands-on and interactive experiences.

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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.

Roemer, R., & Mascaro, D. J., & Pardyjak, E. R., & Bamberg, S. (2011, June), A SPIRAL Learning Curriculum for Second Year Students in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17384

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