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An Integrated Four-year Hands-on Design Curriculum: A Case Study

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Emad W. Jassim University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Emad W. Jassim is an Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to this position he was the Director of Undergraduate Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) where he also served as Chief Advisor, Senior Design Project Coordinator, and lecturer of thermal/fluid science courses. He received his BS, MS, and PhD from the University of Illinois in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Jassim has industry experience as a mechanical engineer working for Henneman Raufeisen and Associates Inc. Industrial Technology Group (ITG). He worked briefly for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) as a Visiting Research Associate where he developed the concept design for the Blue Waters supercomputer cooling system (waterside economizer) that aided in the awarding of the supercomputer to NCSA. He continues to work in industry as a consultant and he is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois. Dr. Jassim has a passion for teaching and has received numerous teaching awards including the University of Illinois Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the College of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award, and the MechSE Five-Year Effective Teaching Award.

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Blake Everett Johnson University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Blake Everett Johnson is a lecturer and instructional laboratory manager in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include experimental fluid mechanics, measurement science, and engineering education. He oversees undergraduate laboratories in fluid mechanics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer. Pedagogically, Dr. Johnson employs active learning, inquiry-based laboratory instruction, and any initiative that empowers students to do hands-on learning. Additional service interests include teaching and leadership training for graduate students, enhancing communication education for undergraduate engineering students, developing evidence-based design project team formation strategies, and improving engineering design curricula.

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A review of the literature supports a hands-on curricular approach as a means to improve learning of engineering concepts and increase student retention. Many institutions incorporate hands-on design courses in their curricula, but few institutions offer an integrated hands-on design course sequence for all four undergraduate years. This paper is a case study of the development of a four-year integrated hands-on design curriculum to motivate, retain, and prepare mechanical engineering students for success in their capstone (senior) design course and future careers. Over a period of ten years, a team of faculty members have incorporated hands-on design components into a sequence of five mechanical design courses, as well as an introductory fluid mechanics laboratory course. Courses in all four years of instruction (Freshman: Computer-Aided Design; Sophomore: Design for Manufacturability; Junior: Mechanical Design I and Mechanical Design II, Fundamentals of Fluid Dynamics Laboratory; Senior: Capstone Design Project) have been revised to utilize a common design process, reporting guidelines, drawing standards, ideation methods, and Innovation Studio. This paper outlines the hands-on integrated design sequence development over time, and highlights changes made to each of the courses. Assessment of student work in the senior capstone course over the years of interest suggests that students are becoming more proficient in aspects of real-world hands-on design projects and that their ability to work effectively as a team is improving. Retention is also found to increase over the period of interest. Challenges to implementation such as financial resources to support the facilities and fabrication materials, qualified teaching assistant availability, and faculty buy-in are discussed.

Jassim, E. W., & Johnson, B. E. (2019, June), An Integrated Four-year Hands-on Design Curriculum: A Case Study Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32068

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