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A Virtual Classroom For Teaching The Economics Of Engineering Design

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.123.1 - 6.123.15



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Paper Authors

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William Sullivan

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Kimberly Sward

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Janis Terpenny

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

Session 3542

Virtual Classroom for Teaching the Economics of Engineering Design

Janis P. Terpenny1, Kimberly Sward1, William G. Sullivan2 University of Massachusetts at Amherst1/ Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University2


As decision-makers, engineers must be knowledgeable and competent in multiple aspects of design. Engineering is more than a problem solving activity focusing on simply the expected performance of designed artifacts. Consideration must also be given to the economic consequences of design decisions on life-cycle issues. A major challenge to undergraduate engineering education is to increase student competency in the economic elements that are such a critical part of the engineering process. Many believe that success in this endeavor requires new methods and materials that actively engage students in learning, are more closely aligned with engineering decision-making, and include real-world problems with industry involvement. The objective of this paper is to report on an experiment that has been conducted to determine whether a virtual classroom environment, developed to address these needs, will improve student proficiency in the economic principles of engineering design.

This paper examines the implementation of the virtual classroom for the economics of engineering design, including modularized course notes, software, materials for on-line testing/assessment, and collaboration with industry through team projects. In addition, the paper examines the role of the virtual classroom in today’s classroom and its potential for future use. Assessment results and discussion on key questions related to the efficacy of web-based materials in education in general are also included.

I. Introduction

The application of computer based learning as a supplement to classroom instruction is still in many ways in its infancy. Many key questions have yet to be answered; such as is computer- aided learning a replacement for some classroom time, does it favor one type of learning style over another, and how do developers effectively display concepts and ideas in ways that get the students’ attention. These questions become of a greater concern as our society becomes more technologically advanced.

The conveying and dissemination of information is key in any learning experience. If the way in which this can be done is expanded to include new media, more students can be reached and a larger portion of the population educated. In addition, new methods of communicating ideas and educating may enhance the learning experience for different styles or types of learners.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Sullivan, W., & Sward, K., & Terpenny, J. (2001, June), A Virtual Classroom For Teaching The Economics Of Engineering Design Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9994

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