Asee peer logo

Assessing and Developing a First-year Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Course

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 16: That Important Decision - Which Engineering Major?

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.237.1 - 26.237.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

visit author page

Robert Rabb is an associate professor and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director at The Citadel. He previously taught mechanical engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and his M.S.E. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in mechatronics, regenerative power, and multidisciplinary engineering.

visit author page


Jason Howison The Citadel

visit author page

Jason Howison is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The Citadel. His research areas include computational fluid dynamics, wind turbine aeroelasticity, and engineering education.

visit author page


Kevin Skenes The Citadel

visit author page

Kevin Skenes is an assistant professor at The Citadel. His research interests include non-destructive evaluation, photoelasticity, manufacturing processes, and engineering education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


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.

Rabb, R. J., & Howison, J., & Skenes, K. (2015, June), Assessing and Developing a First-year Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23576

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: © 2015 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