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An Engineering Laboratory Experience For A Freshman Engineering Class

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Introduction to Engineering and More

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.175.1 - 9.175.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Craig Gunn

author page

Craig Somerton

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

Session 2653

An Engineering Laboratory Experience for a Freshman Engineering Class Craig W. Somerton, Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

Introduction Engineering laboratory experiences are different from science laboratory experiences in that they are more focused on problem solving rather than discovery. Hence, it would seem important to introduce freshmen engineering majors to this difference by giving them an exposure to an engineering laboratory. The mechanical engineering section of the Residential Option for Engineering and Science Students (ROSES) at Michigan State University was given such an opportunity. The ROSES program at MSU is intended as an enrichment program for the best and brightest of the pre-engineering majors. To achieve this, ROSES students are clustered in the dormitories as well as their pre-engineering classes (such as calculus, physics, and engineering graphics). They also attend a weekly, one and a half hour seminar class during the first semester of their freshman year, which is intended to provide an introduction to engineering and assist in the transition from high school. Enrichment is provided during this seminar through several activities including talks from practicing engineers, personality testing, impromptu design projects, and dissection projects. Hence, providing an engineering laboratory experience within this seminar is very consistent with the goals of the ROSES program.

As an assignment for the seminar class, the students were organized into groups of three and given an exercise to be conducted in the department’s Heat Transfer Teaching Laboratory. In the assignment students were asked to predict quantitatively several behaviors associated with convective heat transfer. To provide data, a simple experiment dealing with the convective heat transfer from a cylinder was conducted. This provided the students with exposure to several engineering laboratory issues including:

• simple laboratory modeling of a complex physical process • use of dimensionless parameters • development and use of a predictive model to solve a problem

Additionally, students were allowed to practice their teaming skills through the planning and implementation aspects of the assignment and their communication skills through the reporting phase. This paper continues by providing the details on the assignment, student feedback on the experience, and the lessons learned by the authors.

The Assignment The students were provided with a handout that explained the assignment. The assignment began with a lecture in the seminar class that introduced the students to heat transfer. This included the basic definition of heat transfer as an energy transport mechanism that occurs when energy moves from a body of high temperature to a body of low temperature. Several examples of the three different modes of heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation) were

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Gunn, C., & Somerton, C. (2004, June), An Engineering Laboratory Experience For A Freshman Engineering Class Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13921

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015