June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.246.1 - 23.246.16
Blending Sustainable Design, Systems Thinking, and Engineering Science Concepts in an Introductory Engineering CourseOur relatively new engineering program has been designed based on the Engineer of 2020. Totrain this engineer, the program blends engineering science fundamentals with sustainableengineering design and systems thinking while maintaining the university wide liberal arts core.This program, which has recently completed its fourth year, emphasizes problem based learningthroughout the curriculum and provides students with hands-on design opportunities during allfour academic years. Our goal is to expose students to their future role as global engineers wherethey will be required to balance impacts associated with the four pillars of sustainability—economic, environmental, technical, and societal—to create safe and sustainable designs.As our first graduating class became seniors, we recognized that we could improve on theirability to discover and understand their identity as the Engineer of 2020. Consequently, webecame aware of the need to revamp the introduction to engineering course. While the initialcourse focused on developing strong analytical skills, creativity, communication, strong sense ofprofessionalism, and versatility—all skills of the Engineer of 2020—the offering of the courselacked integration. This paper represents our initial efforts in formulating this integration.The introduction to Engineering course is laid out in modules: Engineering Science (ES),Engineering Design Process (EDP), and Pillars of Sustainability (PS). Students begin in the ESmodule learning initially about the engineering profession and foundational elements ofengineering analysis. The common theme through the ES module is the flow of materials andenergy whether in mechanical, electrical, or chemical systems. Students follow the theme offlow as the course transitions into the EDP module. During the EDP module, students reverseengineer an electromechanical product studying how electrical energy stored in battery isconverted to mechanical energy through the lens of customer needs to functional attributes. Thesecond portion of the EDP module exposes the students to basic hand tool operation through aproject that requires students to perform fundamental engineering analysis. Following the EDPmodule, students transition into the PS module where they are introduced to the idea of life cyclethinking. Students are taught to consider the entire product life as a complex dynamic systemthat begins with material extraction and ends with disposal and/or material recovery. This isreinforced by the team project focusing on the flow of material and energy in a transportationsystem. The course culminates with the integration of ES, EDP, and PS into a single projectwhere students are instructed to produce a physical prototype based on a customer designsolicitation. Students are required to develop multiple designs; evaluate trade-offs between eachdesign; justify decisions using engineering science calculations; develop computer aided modelsof the selected design; construct a physical prototype; and test and refine their design prototype.Following testing and refinement, students sell their designs during a formal presentation andsubmit a formal design report.In this paper, we will provide the mappings between topics covered in the introduction toengineering course and the other courses in the engineering curriculum. Mappings are beneficialto demonstrate how the introduction to engineering course captures the essence of our integratedengineering program based on the Engineer of 2020. We will provide data related to courselearning outcomes, and the paper will conclude with a reflection on the lessons learned.
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