June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.237.1 - 26.237.12
Assessing and Developing a First Year Introduction to Mechanical Engineering CourseThere are numerous articles that exemplify activities and course models to increase the student’sawareness, enjoyment, and retention in engineering during the first year. At (Institution) therehas been great effort in developing a new mechanical engineering program with emphasis onnesting course design and activities with the program curriculum. The (Institution) is classifiedas a small school with the student population split nearly in the middle of in-state and the otherhalf are from nearly every other state and a few foreign countries. With regional needs in Powerand Energy, Manufacturing, Aeronautics, Composites, and Mechatronics, the new mechanicalengineering program was designed with upper level focus areas to meet these needs. This newIntroduction to Mechanical Engineering course’s organization is designed to provide a generalunderstanding of each of these mechanical engineering areas, so that freshman can make aninformed decision when selecting electives. Since there are many misperceptions of whatengineers can or should do, another goal of the course is to increase the students’ awareness ofengineering. The course accomplishes many goals for freshman mechanical engineeringstudents including: an overview of the different areas of mechanical engineering available at theinstitution, introduction to engineering concepts, and attractive opportunities available withinternships and employment after graduation.This paper details the execution of several documented ideas into a successful freshmanIntroduction to Mechanical Engineering course. The course design combines benefits of bothteam and individual requirements. It contains both small hands on activities as well as short termhomework style assignments. The hands on activities and projects are designed to fosterteamwork in an open-ended problem solving environment. Formal assessments includeindividual as well as team homework problems, presentations, and group projects / activitiesthroughout the semester. Several of the individual and team homework problems containelements of multiple mechanical engineering areas, giving them a “tree-top view” of mechanicalengineering as they work their way through several focus areas.The objectives of this paper is to explain the lecture and lab content delivered during the timespent with each focus area, to provide a description of the hands on activities, to assess the firstsemester program results quantitatively and qualitatively, and to discuss the importance of theresults and the future potential of the program.
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