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A Student Assessment of the Value of a Redesigned First Year Mechanical Engineering Orientation Course

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 3a

Tagged Topic

Pacific Southwest Section

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Paper Authors


Nolan Tsuchiya PE California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Dr. Nolan Tsuchiya is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dr. Tsuchiya obtained his PhD. from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the area of Dynamic Systems and Control. Dr. Tsuchiya teaches Controls Engineering, System Dynamics, and Computer Programming courses using MATLAB/Simulink at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is currently the advisor for the CPP Hyperloop team, and a co-advisor for the CPP ASHRAE club. He holds an active California PE license.

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Paul Morrow Nissenson California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Paul Nissenson (Ph.D. Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Irvine, 2009) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He teaches courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and numerical methods. Paul's current research interests involve studying the impact of technology in engineering education.

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Mariappan Jawaharlal California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Mariappan Jawaharlal is recognized as an outstanding educator for his innovative and engaging teaching pedagogy. He has received numerous awards and grants including the Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in teaching. Jawaharlal is the founder of STEM Through Guided Discovery, a robotics program for K-12 students. The success of his program has received international attention and has been adopted abroad. Jawaharlal has more than 20 years of industrial, academic, and entrepreneurial experience. Before joining Cal Poly, Pomona, Jawaharlal founded and developed, Inc., an online supplemental K-12 education company. He also served on the faculty at Rowan University, N.J., and Kettering University, Mich. Jawaharlal is passionate about education and focuses on K-12 STEM education. He writes education columns for the Huffington Post.

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ME 100L (Mechanical Engineering Orientation) is a one-unit introductory lab course required by all incoming mechanical engineering students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with an enrollment of approximately 400 per year. Prior to 2014, ME 100L was a general orientation course with a curriculum that did not change significantly for almost two decades. Starting in Fall 2014, a new curriculum was implemented that exposes students to the Arduino microcontroller, robot building, sensors, DC motors, C programming, CAD modeling, and 3D printing. The primary objective of the redesigned course was to excite incoming students, provide them with an engaging, hands-on experience, and help them acquire useful and transferable skills. From this perspective, the redesign has been a great success as prior surveys indicated that students enjoy the new course. A detailed analysis of the redesign and survey results were presented at the 2016 ASEE Annual Conference.

Since the redesign was implemented only two years ago, our department still contains many students who took ME 100L prior to the redesign and many students who took ME 100L after the redesign. This presented a unique opportunity to examine the long-term impact of the redesign on student performance in subsequent courses, where some of the skills they acquired in ME 100L can be utilized. Surveys were administered to students in select junior- and senior-level courses to determine whether students who took the redesigned ME 100L transferred their skills to other courses. For example, prior to the redesign students typically learned about microcontrollers for the first time in their senior year. However, there are ample opportunities for students to utilize microcontrollers in class projects in their junior-level courses as well. The authors also compare the types of student projects observed in these lower-level courses before and after the redesign. Additional questions in the survey probed students’ perceived usefulness of ME 100L in their entire engineering curriculum. The survey results show that students’ who took the redesigned version of ME 100L have a much higher opinion of the course compared to those who took the older version of ME 100L.

Tsuchiya, N., & Nissenson, P. M., & Jawaharlal, M. (2017, April), A Student Assessment of the Value of a Redesigned First Year Mechanical Engineering Orientation Course Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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: © 2017 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