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Assessing The Effectiveness Of A Racecar Based Laboratory Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.212.1 - 6.212.6

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Paper Authors

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Susan Creighton

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Edward Young

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Jed Lyons

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

Session 1526

Assessing the Effectiveness of a Racecar-Based Laboratory Course

Jed Lyons, Edward F. Young and Susan D. Creighton University of South Carolina


A new capstone mechanical engineering laboratory course was recently institutionalized at the University of South Carolina. The course is based upon an integrated sequence of laboratory experiments on a Legends-class racecar, chosen because it involves many fundamental mechanical engineering principles. It's also exciting to the students. As the students progress through the series of experiments, they are increasingly involved in experimental design. In this way, the course develops the student's abilities to analyze complex mechanical and thermal systems, to design experiments, and to practice life-long learning. The course development was supported by the National Science Foundation's CCLI and ILI programs and the University of South Carolina. Previous presentations described the test vehicle and instrumentation. This paper focuses on project evaluation and assessment results that are being used to improve the course's effectiveness.


The mechanical engineering program at the University of South Carolina includes a capstone senior laboratory course, Mechanical Systems Laboratory. Prior to 1997, the primary goal of this course was to illustrate upper-level mechanical engineering topics. Since 1997, however, the department has been improving the course to help meet the following program objectives. The graduates shall: 1. Have the ability to analyze, design and realize mechanical and thermal systems. 2. Have the ability to use contemporary computation techniques and tools. 3. Have competence in design of experiments, experimental practices and data interpretation. 4. Have the ability to apply statistical methods to analyze and interpret data. 5. Have the ability to plan, schedule and execute engineering projects. 6. Have effective oral and written communication skills. 7. Have the ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams. 8. Have an understanding of and the ability to engage in life-long learning. 9. Have an appreciation for the role of engineering in modern society.

The strategies followed for developing outcomes 1-7 primarily involve a sequence of laboratory experiments that are conducted with one complex thermal-mechanical system of study. As the students progress through the series of experiments, they are increasingly involved in experimental design (selecting sensors, sensor locations and experimental operating conditions). In this way, the students develop a systems approach to engineering problems, the ability to design and conduct experiments, and further develop their professional skills. Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Creighton, S., & Young, E., & Lyons, J. (2001, June), Assessing The Effectiveness Of A Racecar Based Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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