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A Team Based Design Competition For Freshman Engineering Students That Emphasizes Sustainable Design

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Early Engineering Design Experiences

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.130.1 - 14.130.18



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Paper Authors


Robert 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 assistant professor in the School 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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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Team-Based Design Competition for Freshmen Engineering Students that Emphasizes Sustainable Design


This paper discusses a design competition for freshman students in the School of Engineering at James Madison University. Our engineering program has a sustainability focus that is specifically related to sustainable design and sustainable systems analysis. Our philosophy of sustainable design incorporates technical, economic, environmental, and societal criteria. Our program includes a ten credit design course sequence in which development of tangible prototypes and models will be emphasized. The purpose of the freshman design competition is to introduce our freshmen to our philosophy of sustainable design, introduce our students to some of the tools available to them in our Engineering Design Studio, and to develop a sense of community in our freshmen.

Participants in the design competition are introduced to our philosophy of sustainable design via the competition rules and scoring formulas. Students in the competition are required to attend a training session in our Engineering Design Studio where they are introduced to basic construction tools, tool usage techniques, and layout techniques. The Engineering Design Studio also serves as the facility that students use to build their design competition entries. Students sign up for the competition in groups of three or four during the first two weeks of fall semester classes. Our program does not have a required engineering course until the spring semester of the freshman year so this is the first opportunity for our students to work together on an engineering activity.

This paper addresses the competition rules and scoring formula along with our rationale for each to facilitate transferability to others that are planning design competitions. We developed a formula to rate the student designs that incorporates scores from each of the four elements of our sustainable design philosophy. This formula and the underlying rationale are included in order to assist others who wish to assess student work using sustainable design criteria. We also present the competition results in order to share which aspects of the competition the students chose to prioritize. Post-competition feedback obtained from anonymous surveys of participants, faculty, and the external judges from local industries is given and discussed in order to show the aspects of the competition process that worked well, and those that may be modified.


James Madison University (JMU), traditionally known as a liberal arts school, has recently created a School of Engineering which offers a single engineering degree: Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Our inaugural class of 120 students started as freshmen in the fall of 2008. The engineering program is designed to meet ABET accreditation criteria and to prepare our students to take the FE exam. The program has a sustainability focus, with particular attention paid to sustainable design and systems analysis. Our philosophy of sustainable design incorporates technical, financial, environmental, and societal criteria1. The backbone of our curriculum consists of a 10 credit sequence of design courses that extend through the entire sophomore, junior, and senior years. These courses are laboratory courses and contain significant project

Prins, R. (2009, June), A Team Based Design Competition For Freshman Engineering Students That Emphasizes Sustainable Design Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4763

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