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Academic Practice/Design Interventions: An Activity-Based Design Course for Conceptualizing Failure and Factor of Safety

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Teamwork and Student Learning in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Nikolaos E. Vitoroulis Jr Stevens Institute of Technology

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Nikolaos Vitoroulis supervises the Engineering Design Laboratories at Stevens Institute of Technology. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens and specialized in Robotics, Mechatronics, and Manufacturing. As a member of the Innovation, Design & Entrepreneurship at Stevens (IDEaS) team, he works with the development team to update and generate engineering curriculum content. His past industrial experiences include: Production & Packaging Engineering at L'Oreal, Medical Device Development at Ethicon, and Mechanical Design of Commercial Camera Robotics.

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Changhong Zhang


Kishore Pochiraju Stevens Institute of Technology

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Kishore Pochiraju is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at Stevens Institute of Technology. He recently served as the Founding Director of the Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Program at Stevens ( IDEaS) and prior to that, as the Director of the Design and Manufacturing Institute, a research center at Stevens. Prof. Pochiraju received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Drexel University and joined Stevens after working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Delaware. His expertise spans product design, advanced manufacturing, materials insertion, and knowledge-based systems integration. His current externally-funded research is on the design of real-time lightweight robotic systems, high-temperature materials, and micro-/nano-scale devices. He is a member of ASME, ASEE and the American Society for Composites (ASC).

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Teaching design throughout the eight-semesters of undergraduate studies, termed as the design spine, is a hallmark of the engineering curriculum at our university. As most engineering designs must meet some level of mechanical performance requirements, this third-semester design spine course focuses on the design of load carrying components. This course requires the introductory course on mechanics of materials as either a prerequisite or a co-requisite. The pedagogy in this course centers on introducing design vectors that span material behavior, geometry choices, and manufacturing processes in a laboratory environment while using team-based learning methods. We recently developed a series of activities that introduce material behavior, failure modes, uncertainty in material properties, understanding the factor of safety in design, and culminating in a planar truss design and validation exercise. The course presents the evolution of complexity in the design vector through experiments that focus on design for tensile strength (material selection for strength), compression/buckling, (material selection and geometry design for stiffness enhancement), and joint shearing, (material selection, geometry design and process selection). Student teams analyze the statistical variability and parameter uncertainty using the data generated by all teams enrolled in the course. Using a data-driven approach, we introduce and reinforce the concept of factor of safety using simple reliability theories that model uncertainty in component strength. The course culminates the design, testing and optimization of a space-spanning truss using the data generated from the earlier activities. The student performance is assessed directly from the student teams’ data submissions and lab/design report grades, and indirectly through learning outcome surveys. Student teamwork performance is measured by a public peer-evaluation rating scheme, which also feeds back to the team selection process. This paper presents the activities, the instructional methods, assessment data for the pilot implementations, and a comparison of the student performance from the prior years.

Vitoroulis, N. E., & Zhang, C., & Pochiraju, K. (2018, June), Academic Practice/Design Interventions: An Activity-Based Design Course for Conceptualizing Failure and Factor of Safety Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29747

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