June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
Competitive motorsports at the undergraduate level has become an increasingly popular extra- and co-curricular activity at universities throughout the world. The importance of these experiential, industry-centered projects has long been understood by serving as a true proving ground for students while giving them the upper hand with industry recruiters.
Competitions sanctioned by SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers) generally occur at the end of the school year (May/June), thereby making the summer months a critical time for student teams to reflect on their previous designs and to start proposing innovations for the subsequent season. The Formula SAE (FSAE) team at The Cooper Union in New York City has used this time to immerse high school students in this real-world activity in their college’s summer STEM program.
This 6-week intensive summer program is separated into two main modules. The first module focuses on teaching students the fundamentals of engineering experimentation that culminate in oral presentations detailing their findings. These experiments include the study of cantilever beams, electric motors, water pumps, flame speed vs. air-fuel ratio, and basic electronics and microcontroller exercises.
After the first week of experiments, students develop a design project that is inspired by an urgent research problem the FSAE team needs to solve. During the past three years, these have included: 1) rebuilding, instrumenting and using a torsion rig to characterize the torsional rigidity of the vehicle’s frame, 2) building and using a dynamic impact attenuator test rig, 3) aggressive use of carbon fiber for weight savings in the steering wheel, suspension, pedal system, impact attenuator, and body, 4) novel techniques for the design and manufacture of aerodynamic features, 5) electronic data acquisition system, or DAQ and 6) building a brake dynamometer. Weekly design 'sprints' were given by each team where they presented an update of their project to the entire class and were then critiqued on their engineering method as well as their technical communication skills.
In addition to exposing the STEM fields to high school students as they explore college and career choices, this program was also a critical learning environment for the teaching assistants who mentored these students. Entry and exit surveys were used as assessment tools to gauge the efficacy of the program in providing the students with a better appreciation for the opportunities available in the STEM professions and if the program itself changed their desire about what profession they would want to explore in college.
Delagrammatikas, G. J., & Rodas, E. (2019, June), Board 113: Teaching Hands-On Racecar Design in a Summer Pre-College Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32194
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