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A Systematic Review of Mechatronic-based Projects in Introductory Engineering and Technology Courses

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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

Project-based Learning in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.119.1 - 26.119.9



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Paper Authors


John R Haughery Iowa State University

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John Haughery is currently a PhD graduate fellow in the department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University pursuing a degree in Industrial and Agricultural Technology. His technical experience and interests include electrical energy systems, industrial controls, and mechatronics. Currently he is researching the integration of mechatronic-based projects into freshman engineering and technology curricula with the intent of increasing student engagement. John received his BS in Industrial Technology: Electronic/Control Systems from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in 2006, after which he spent over eight years as a control systems engineer and project manager at Multi-Dimensional Integration. Most recently, he received his MS in Engineering and Technology Management from Morehead State University in 2014.

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Dave Raj Raman Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Raj Raman is Professor and Associate Chair for Teaching in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) Department at Iowa State University, where he is also University Education Program Director and Testbed Champion for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), Director of Graduate Education for the Interdepartmental Graduate Minor in Biorenewable Chemicals, and Education Programs Co-Leader for the USDA-AFRI project CenUSA Sustainable Production and Distribution of Biofuels for the Central USA. He is a licensed Professional Engineer who earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University. Prior to coming to Iowa State in 2006, he was a faculty member at the University of Tennessee for over twelve years.

Raman enjoys teaching and has taught courses including freshmen engineering (mechanics and computer programming – to classes ranging in size from 20 to 500+), sophomore and junior level courses on mass and energy balance applications to biological systems engineering, numerical methods, electric power and electronics for technology students, senior design, as well as a long-standing residential/online graduate course on the fundamentals of biorenewable resources and technology. He believes well trained, curious, thoughtful people are crucial to a university’s research effort, and similarly to the function and survival of society. For this reason, the overarching goal of his teaching is to impart the core content needed by the students, and to do so while encouraging inquisition and higher levels of thought. He has secured competitive funds to support his teaching efforts – from university, industry, and federal sources – and for his efforts has received departmental, college, and national teaching honors including the Farrall Young Educator Award given by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, and an invitation to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s 2013 Frontiers in Engineering Education Conference.

Raman chairs the ABE Engineering Curriculum Committee and in that role oversaw the successful 2012 ABET accreditation visit for both the Agricultural Engineering (AE) and Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) degree programs. Upon arriving at ISU in 2006, he led the development of the BSE program, and this program now enrolls over 80 students. Raman also runs multiple summer research internship programs through his roles in CBiRC and CenUSA. In his role as Pyrone Testbed Champion for CBiRC, Raman and his students have developed early-stage technoeconomic models of bioprocessing systems. His graduate students have gone on to faculty positions at Purdue and the University of Georgia, and to engineering leadership positions at companies including Cargill, Nestle, and Merck.

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A Systematic Review of Factors Influencing The Effectiveness of Mechatronic Based Projects in Introductory Engineering and Technology CoursesFor well over two decades, engineering and technology educators have been deploying hands-onproject-based learning activities in freshmen courses, in the hopes of inspiring students,increasing retention, and creating better educated graduates. Some of these educators have alsobeen reporting the results of their efforts through papers published and/or presented in a widevariety of settings. In an attempt to understand the broad results of these efforts, this paperdiscusses the effects of mechatronic-based projects on the retention of engineering andtechnology students. To facilitate this discussion, we conducted a systematic review of well over120 related sources of literature spanning the years from 1990 to 2014. This effort constituted aconfigurative review and allowed us to construct a methodically mapped landscape of the topicby applying a code or codes to each source. We will present the results of this effort, includingtabulations of the works that allow identification of the trends and gaps in the literature specificto the categories of Course Level, Content Delivery Method, Retention, InvestmentLevel/Duration, Improvement Process, and Pedagogy. We will discuss our categorizationstrategies, and present conclusions about the efficacy of these approaches and the areas thatappear most fruitful for additional research. In so doing, we hope to lay a strong foundation forfuture efforts towards improving the education of freshman technology students at a large land-grand, research-based university in the United States.

Haughery, J. R., & Raman, D. R. (2015, June), A Systematic Review of Mechatronic-based Projects in Introductory Engineering and Technology Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23460

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