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A Student Perspective On Freshman Engineering Design Projects: Developing Core Skills In Young Engineers

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.93.1 - 15.93.11



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Paper Authors


Michael Pacella University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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Michael Pacella will graduate Summa Cum Laude in May 2010 with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering [Bioengineering track] from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He currently is a finalist for the 2010 UMBC Valedictorian. Michael has spent the last two years serving as a Teaching Fellow for the Introduction to Engineering Design Course at UMBC. In addition, he has been doing undergraduate research on developing and testing a kinetic model of Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii (a species of single-celled green algae) metabolism with the goal of optimizing lipid synthesis for biodiesel production. He will be attending graduate school at the Johns Hopkins University in Biomedical Engineering.

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Taryn Bayles University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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Taryn Bayles is a Professor of the Practice of Chemical Engineering in the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department at UMBC, where she incorporates her industrial experience by bringing practical examples and interactive learning to help students understand fundamental engineering principles. Her current research focuses on engineering education, outreach and curriculum development.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Student Perspective on Freshman Engineering Design Projects: Developing Core Skills in Young Engineers


As both a student and teaching fellow in an Introductory Engineering Design class, experiences and observations have allowed me to see the many benefits of the course’s design project requirement. For many young engineers who chose their major based on an interest in math and science, the design project provides their first encounter with synthesis and evaluation, two skills that distinguish the engineering profession from the natural sciences. The design project requires that students utilize their knowledge and comprehension of math and science to inexpensively and efficiently build something to accomplish a set objective given a series of problem constraints. The design project also requires students to evaluate and reflect on not only their own work, but the work of their colleagues in the class as well. The skills of synthesis and evaluation later become crucial as students progress through their years as upperclassmen and enter the research or industrial fields. My own experience in undergraduate research and advanced engineering courses, particularly the senior design course, has clearly demonstrated this. The design project also fosters the development of communication skills in young engineers. By working in diverse design groups of 4-6 students as part of a discussion section of ~30 students, young engineers gain experience in collaboration (both within and between groups) to determine the overall design scheme of the project as well as the creation and delegation of smaller individual tasks. Finally, the design project introduces young engineers to the theoretical and mathematical aspects of engineering design. Students are required to develop a mathematical model to predict the performance of their design based on their understanding of the governing scientific principles involved. This paper will feature my perspective, both as a student and as a teaching fellow, of the Introduction to Engineering Design course and will provide detailed descriptions of the three design projects (and their potential solutions) which I have been involved with. In addition comparisons will be made using student assessments of course outcomes for each of the three years of the comparison (from both the student and faculty perspective).


Curriculum: The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has made alterations to its Introduction to Engineering Design (ENES 101) course, modifying it from a purely lecture and design-on-paper course to a more active learning and hands-on experience for the past ten years. As a senior chemical engineering major (bioengineering track) at UMBC who has worked as a teaching fellow for the ENES 101 course the past two years, I have both personally experienced the benefits of this alteration as a student and I have witnessed the impact these changes have had on other students as a teaching fellow. Implementation of this change has occurred over the past ten years via modifications and additions to the course curriculum. While the course still offers two fifty-minute sessions

Pacella, M., & Bayles, T. (2010, June), A Student Perspective On Freshman Engineering Design Projects: Developing Core Skills In Young Engineers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16847

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