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An assessment of student needs in project-based mechanical design courses

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Conference

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Design Methodology and Evaluation 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

23.153.1 - 23.153.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/19167

Download Count

37

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Paper Authors

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Donal Holland Trinity College Dublin

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Dónal Holland is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. His research focuses on engineering education, open source hardware and medical device design.

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Conor Walsh P.E. Harvard University

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Conor is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. He is the founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, which brings together researchers from the engineering, industrial design, medical and business communities to develop smart medical devices and translate them to industrial partners in collaboration with the Wyss Institute's Advanced Technology Team. Conor's research projects focus on wearable robotics to assist the disabled and able-bodied, as well as on tools for minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment of disease. His educational interest is in the area of medical device innovation where he mentors student design teams on projects with clinicians in Boston and in emerging regions such as India. Conor received his B.A.I and B.A. degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing engineering from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, in 2003 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 and 2010. Conor is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is also the founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, which brings together researchers from the engineering, industrial design, medical and business communities to develop smart medical devices and translate them to industrial partners in collaboration with the Wyss Institute's Advanced Technology Team. Conor received his B.A.I and B.A. degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing engineering from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, in 2003 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 and 2010. He has been the recipient of over a dozen invention, entrepreneurship, and student mentoring awards including the MIT $100K business plan competition, Whitaker Health Sciences Fund Fellowship, and the MIT Graduate Student Mentor of the Year.

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Gareth J. Bennett Trinity College Dublin

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Dr. Gareth J. Bennett, B.A., B.A.I., M.Sc., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in Trinity College Dublin and has recently returned from Stanford University where he was a Visiting Scholar in the School of Engineering and the Centre for Design Research. Dr. Bennett obtained his B.A.I. Mechanical Engineering Degree in 1994 and his M.Sc. degree through research in 1996, both from the University of Dublin, T.C.D. In 1994 Dr. Bennett obtained a research fellowship to work in the national Nuclear and Technological Research Institute (I.T.N.) in Lisbon, Portugal to carry out work in fluid elastic instability, vibration analysis and signal processing. After completion of his M.Sc., degree Dr. Bennett worked for a year in a national fluid mechanics research laboratory (L.E.G.I.) in Grenoble, France performing research in the area of Computerised Fluid Dynamics (CFD) as applied to cavitational flows of turbine blades. On returning to Ireland, Dr. Bennett accepted employment in the industrial sector working, initially as a consultant in Vibration analysis, and subsequently as a Senior Mechanical Design Engineer in an American multinational (Thermoking) and subsequently an Irish SME (Odenburg). From 2002-2007 he managed TCD's contribution to a collaborative FP5 EU research project "Silencer" worth €240k and completed his Ph.D. "Noise Source Identification For Ducted Fans" in 2006. Dr. Bennett is currently P.I. on four EU FP7 projects of which he is the Coordinator of two: "TEENI" (€400k):- Broadband Noise Source Identification of Helicopter Engines; "WENEMOR" a Clean Sky JTI project in the area of Open Rotor installation effects (€1,375,000), "ALLEGRA": a second Clean Sky JTI project to reduce noise from the landing gear of Green Rotor-Craft (€2,000,000). Dr. Bennett is also the National Focal Point in Ireland for X-Noise EV an FP7 Coordination and Support Action in Aeroacoustics and is the only Irish member of the Aeroacoustics Specialists' Committee of the Confederation of European Aerospace Societies (CEAS). In addition to his principle research areas: Sound, Vibration & Aeroacoustics he is also research active in the areas of Design (Open, Universal and Medical Device Design) as well as conducting research in Engineering Education. In the Design Community he is responsible for the School of Engineering joining the CDIO organisation for which he is the contact principle for the School and he was recently a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Design Research in Stanford University. Dr. Bennett lectures in the area of Mechanical Engineering Design and has helped to extensively revise the undergraduate curriculum, introducing innovative project based design modules. This lead to Dr. Bennett receiving the Provost's Teaching Award for Academic Excellence, the University's most prestigious teaching award and was recently selected as a nominee for Trinity for a National Award for Teaching Excellence (NAIRTL). Dr. Bennett currently has seven graduate students and two post-doctoral fellows in his research group. See http://tcdlocalportal.tcd.ie/pls/public/staff.detail?p_unit=mechanical_engineering&p_name=bennettg for further information. [email: gareth.bennett@tcd.ie

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Abstract

An assessment of student needs in project-based mechanical design coursesIn response to a perceived lack of practical design experience for students, many universitieshave begun introducing new project-based courses into the curriculum. However, despite thegrowing recognition of its importance in engineering education, there is still little agreementover how best to teach design. Studies of expert performance suggest that successful designrequires both domain-specific knowledge, which refers to knowledge of topics such asmechanics, standard machine elements, and material selection, and general processknowledge, which refers to domain-independent knowledge related to the management of thedesign process. The range of knowledge required and the open-ended nature of designprojects present challenges in monitoring and supporting student learning.This paper describes a series of studies aimed at identifying the pedagogical needs of studentsin project-based design courses so that educational environments and resources can bedeveloped to meet these needs. The studies were conducted at two institutions, HarvardUniversity and Trinity College Dublin. A series of questionnaires was used to identify thedifficulties faced by student teams working on mechanical design projects, and the resourcesthey felt were needed to support their learning. A teaching assistant on the courses conductedparticipant observation studies and informal interviews to expand upon the results of thequestionnaires. A range of conceptual and practical difficulties was identified, associatedwith the two knowledge types required in design. Difficulties associated with general processknowledge included defining the problem to be solved, evaluating and integratinginformation, and tolerating uncertainty in the design process. Difficulties associated withdomain-specific knowledge included evaluating the feasibility of potential solutions, makingassumptions and estimates so that physical systems could be modeled and analyzed, anddesigning for manufacturability.These results provide suggestions for the development of course content to best meet theneeds of students. A better high-level understanding of the design process is essential forstudents to solve ill-structured problems when the information available is ambiguous.Design requires skills related to approximation and first-order analysis that are oftenneglected in engineering education in favor of sophisticated analysis techniques for precisecalculation. Unlike engineering science courses, in which knowledge is structured aroundfundamental physics principles, problem-solving in design is highly context-dependent, andstudents therefore require access to information on a wide range of specific solutions. Thepaper concludes with some suggestions for the types of activities and resources that couldhelp meet these needs.

Holland, D., & Walsh, C., & Bennett, G. J. (2013, June), An assessment of student needs in project-based mechanical design courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19167

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