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An Approach to Using Undergraduate Student Teams to Develop Undergraduate Laboratory Experiences

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Laboratory Experiences with Thermal and Chemical Systems and Sensors

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.153.1 - 25.153.24



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Paper Authors


Kevin A. Gibbons Ret. U.S. Air Force Academy, NexOne, Inc., and CAStLE

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Kevin Gibbons is a Senior Scientist for NexOne, Inc., in the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension (CAStLE) located at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. He taught in the AF Academy Department of Engineering Mechanics for four years, where he earned his Assistant Professorship and served as the Director of the Applied Mechanics Laboratory. He currently works as an advisor for a senior capstone research team and mentor to multiple mechanical instrumentation project teams. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering with minor in engineering mechanics from the Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT. He spent 22 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and is a Flight Test Engineer graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School. Gibbons spent most of his AF career performing flight test on advanced aircraft weapons systems. His interests include thermo-fluid sciences, teaching, experimentation, traveling, SCUBA, and botanical sciences.

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Philip Knodel U.S. Air Force Academy

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Philip Knodel is currently a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy and will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force this May. At the Academy, Knodel has studied to earn a B.S. in mechanical engineering for the past four years. As an officer, Knodel has been selected to serve as a pilot. Apart from his job and studies, Knodel is also an avid snowboarder and has a passion for sailing, having traveled, and sailed in more than 20 countries around the world.

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Joel William Noble U.S. Air Force Academy

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Joel Noble is a senior in the Department of Engineering Mechanics USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. The majority of his focus has been in structures and materials. After graduating in May, Noble plans to attend undergraduate pilot training with the USAF. Noble's other interest includes soccer, basketball, camping, and traveling.

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Nathan W. Seibt U.S. Air Force Academy

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Nathan Seibt is a first class cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, with a minor in Spanish. He has focused his undergraduate education on thermal fluids and energy topics, while also taking upper-level Spanish courses and participating in the Academy Scholars Program. After graduation and commissioning, he will go on to Undergraduate Pilot Training. His interests include renewable energy and energy conversion, Spanish literature, rock climbing, recreational shooting, and traveling.

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An Approach To Using Undergraduate Student Teams To Develop Meaningful Undergraduate Laboratory ExperiencesThe technical information presented in many undergraduate engineering courses is emphasizedand solidified by using laboratory experiences. Hands-on “lab experiences” vary widely incomplexity, value, cost, ease of use, and faculty time as well as student time investment. Each,from the classroom demonstration to the traditional laboratory to the student-designed, faculty-mentored research project, is a suitable alternative depending on the context and resourcesavailable, all with the intention of providing illustrative, thought-provoking learningopportunities. As new, interesting technology is introduced into undergraduate courses or newcourses introduced into the curriculum, some professors find themselves wanting to provide newhands-on exercises for their students to support their course objectives. At the same time, theyoften find they are short on time, money, or resources needed to develop their ideas intomeaningful, level-appropriate learning events meant to timely support their students’ learning.In this effort, two undergraduate, senior-level mechanical engineering student groups in amechanical instrumentation and measurements course at the US Air Force Academy were taskedto develop engaging, relevant laboratory learning experiences for other undergraduate studentswhile they met the learning objectives of their instrumentation course. The intention was to usethese student-designed labs in a newly implemented renewable energy undergraduate course.The development process strategies, benefits, as well as difficulties encountered in this approachare discussed and recommendations provided. An example “lab experience” developed byundergraduates, guided by staff, during this process is included. This example could beimplemented as is or modified with minimal time and money investment for relevant courses.Keywords: Laboratory experiments, laboratory experiences, laboratory exercises, hands-onlearning opportunities, undergraduate student teams

Gibbons, K. A., & Knodel, P., & Noble, J. W., & Seibt, N. W. (2012, June), An Approach to Using Undergraduate Student Teams to Develop Undergraduate Laboratory Experiences Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20913

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