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A Student-developed Rotational Mechanics Laboratory Exercise to Link Engineering Design and Science

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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


Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.111.1 - 26.111.24



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Paper Authors

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Jacob Michael Wild James Madison University


Robert L. Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Robert Nagel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. Dr. Nagel joined the James Madison University after completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. He has a B.S. from Trine University and a M.S. from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, both in mechanical engineering. Since joining James Madison University, Nagel has helped to develop and teach the six course engineering design sequence which represents the spine of the curriculum for the Department of Engineering. The research and teaching interests of Dr. Nagel tend to revolve around engineering design and engineering design education, and in particular, the design conceptualization phase of the design process. He has performed research with the US Army Chemical Corps, General Motors Research and Development Center, and the US Air Force Academy, and he has received grants from the NSF, the EPA, and General Motors Corporation.

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Robert J. Prins James Madison University

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Robert Prins received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2005; he is currently an associate professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University
(JMU). Prior to joining JMU, Dr. Prins was a faculty member at Virginia State University. Dr. Prins' industrial experience includes one year as a suspension engineer at Visteon, Inc. and five years as an engineer at Perceptron, Inc., a machine vision company.

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A Rotational Mechanics Laboratory Exercise Developed and Tested by StudentsStatics and dynamics are taught in the same semester as a single course in our engineeringprogram, typically during a student’s fourth semester. Although physics and chemistry courseshave familiarized students with university-level science courses and laboratories, the statics anddynamics course is a student’s first experience with a science course with laboratory componentthat is specifically engineering. While the course’s lectures and homework assignments teachstudents to find theoretical solutions to statics and dynamics problems, the laboratory exercisessimultaneously teach students to experimentally determine these same values. Although theseconcepts are being taught simultaneously in the classroom and the laboratory, it has beenobserved that students sometimes struggle to see the connections between the theory taught inthe classroom and the practical application taught in the laboratory.In order to develop a laboratory exercise that could better help students make connectionsbetween classroom theory and laboratory application, a student was recruited to performdevelopment tasks. The student who was chosen was only one month removed from completionof the statics and dynamics course; this way, the student’s experience of the course was fresh intheir mind, and they would be able to remember difficulties they or their peers had makingconnections while they were taking course.The focus of the student developed laboratory exercise was rotational mechanics. The studentdeveloping the laboratory exercise had not been exposed to a rotational mechanics laboratoryexercise when they took statics and dynamics the previous semester; therefore, the laboratoryexercise was developed without any bias toward what a laboratory exercise focused on rotationalmechanics should or should not be. The student was given a budget and was told to use a bicyclewheel (as our students tend to have a variety of prior experiences with bicycles) and anaccelerometer as the main features of the exercise. The student was given the freedom topurchase or develop any other laboratory equipment that they saw as beneficial to the laboratoryexercise they created.This paper will report on how the student’s experience completing the statics and dynamicscourse impacted their decision making when designing the laboratory exercise. The paper willcover the technical aspects of the laboratory exercise, including the equipment set up that wasdeveloped, problems that were encountered, and how data was taken and interpreted. There willalso be a discussion of how the second student responded to completing the laboratory exercise,and how well the student appeared to understand the concepts of rotational mechanics aftercompletion of the exercise. Changes made to the laboratory exercise will be discussed, and thefinal laboratory exercise to be implemented in the Spring 2015 statics and dynamics course willbe provided.

Wild, J. M., & Nagel, R. L., & Prins, R. J. (2015, June), A Student-developed Rotational Mechanics Laboratory Exercise to Link Engineering Design and Science Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23452

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