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Assessing the Impact of an Intro to ME Course on the Capstone Design Process

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Capstone Design

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count

12

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36716

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36716

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

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Brian J. Novoselich United States Military Academy

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Brian Novoselich is an active duty Army Lieutenant Colonel currently serving as an Associate Professor and Academy Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy (West Point). He earned his Ph.D. in engineering education at Virginia Tech in 2016. He holds Master's and Bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and West Point respectively. His research interests include capstone design teaching and assessment, undergraduate engineering student leadership development, and social network analysis. He is also a licensed professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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James E. Bluman United States Military Academy Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8551-2958

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Lieutenant Colonel James Bluman is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He has served the United States Army for over 20 years as an officer and Army Aviator. He is a graduate of West Point (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering), Penn State (M.S. in Aerospace Engineering), and the Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering). His research interests are in the flight dynamics of VTOL aircraft and UAVs and innovative teaching methods.

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Rebecca Zifchock United States Military Academy

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Dr. Rebecca Zifchock joined the faculty at the United States Military Academy in 2010 after receiving her bachelor's degree in Biological and Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University, and master's and Ph.D. degrees in Biomechanics at the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Delaware, respectively. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery. She has over twenty years of research experience in the field of lower-extremity biomechanics, and has 23 peer-reviewed journal publications and over 68 conference proceedings. She has taught as an instructor, adjunct professor, and guest lecturer in five major universities, including Columbia University, Sacred Heart University, and New York Medical College.

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Matthew Dabkowski United States Military Academy

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Colonel Matthew Dabkowski is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He has served in the United States Army for 24 years as an Infantry Officer, Operations Research Analyst, and Academy Professor. He is a graduate of West Point (B.S. in Operations Research) and the University of Arizona (M.S. in Systems Engineering and Ph.D. in Systems and Industrial Engineering). His research interests include applied statistics and simulation modeling.

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Abstract

Engineers use scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items to support humanity. A fundamental understanding of the design process and applying it to novel, ill-defined problems and situations is integral to success as an engineer. Introduction to engineering courses have become ubiquitous in engineering programs across the nation. These courses provide first-year students with a broad overview of the engineering profession and often provide students an introduction to the process of design work. These experiences provide a foundation for further design implementation throughout the rest of their undergraduate curriculum. Creating these courses pulls design curriculum forward from where it has historically been taught as part of the capstone design experience. Correspondingly, implementation of these early introductory engineering courses may influence student aptitude in their capstone design experience. The mechanical engineering program at The United States Military Academy (West Point) recently implemented a new Introduction to Mechanical Engineering course (Intro to ME) for first-year mechanical engineering majors (sophomore-level students). This course provides a range of introductory-level content to include the study and application of the design process. The course was developed with the intent to provide students a broad understanding of mechanical engineering profession and the design process so that further technical curriculum could be properly situated within the larger framework of engineering design and analysis.

The purpose of this paper is to assess the implementation of the Intro to ME course on the students’ aptitude in their capstone design experience. This qualitative research examined the anonymous survey responses of mechanical engineering faculty that served as capstone design team advisors in the 2019 and 2020 academic years. These years provided longitudinal data corresponding to the last cohort of students that did not receive the new introductory course, and the first cohort that did. All data evaluated their skill levels during their senior year capstone design experience. Therefore, the survey was a direct opportunity to assess the result of an early introduction to the mechanical engineering profession and design process.

The paper assesses the effect of the Intro to ME course on student grasp of the design process and their ability to apply the process to their capstone design project. Overall results were mixed with faculty indicating that students who completed the Intro to ME course differentially applied the design process but also had fewer gaps in their knowledge of the tools associated with the design process. Furthermore, there were no indications that the Intro to ME course provided a negative impact on the capstone design program. Faculty indicated a need to further integrate elements of the design process across the curriculum. The results provide ME faculty insights into how implementation of an Intro to ME course may affect the capstone design process at their own institutions.

Novoselich, B. J., & Bluman, J. E., & Zifchock, R., & Dabkowski, M. (2021, July), Assessing the Impact of an Intro to ME Course on the Capstone Design Process Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36716

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