June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Design in Engineering Education
11.281.1 - 11.281.13
BOTTLE ROCKETS AND PARAMETRIC DESIGN IN A DIVERGING-CONVERGING DESIGN STRATEGY
The Sophomore Engineering Clinic covers two semesters in an eight-semester design sequence. The course integrates engineering with writing and public speaking. In the past the course has used two semester-long design projects to teach design through a series of problems of increasing complexity. Though the course has been effective at teaching students to prototype devices, it has been less effective at teaching design as evidenced by written project documentation and observation of students' decision making processes. In the fall of 2005 the course was revised to incorporate a convergent-divergent framework to teach design. In addition, the semester-long project in the fall was replaced in favor of one four-week project followed by a ten-week project.
The initial four-week project was structured to formalize an approach to making choices using parametric studies in a diverging-converging design process. The design and construction of water-propelled bottle rockets from 2 L soda bottles was chosen as the initial four-week project. Students built and tested rockets which were limited in materials and construction. The limitations allowed the rockets to be characterized by three parameters: the mass of water used, the aspect ratio of fins used, and the mass of Playdoh used in a nose cone. Students generated parametric testing schedules and took data on the performance of their designs with respect to the variables in order to inform design choices. During the course, these steps towards a final design were linked to a diverging-converging framework for design thinking. At the end of the course all students had performed parametric studies of their rockets and rocket performance was improved both over the four weeks and as compared to previous years. In addition, the following ten-week project showed improvements in quantitative metrics of performance over the previous years.
All students in the engineering curriculum at our university are required to take an eight-semester design sequence called the Engineering Clinics. The sophomore year of the Engineering Clinic series is devoted to Design and Communication. The course is team taught by faculty from multiple departments within the College of Engineering and the College of Communication. The students spend 160 minutes in an engineering lab period and 150 minutes in a communication class period per week. Two sections of the lab are run with about 60 students in each and six sections of the communication class with about 20 students in each. Assignments and grading are integrated through both communication- and engineering-specific sections, a trend that is gaining national acceptance1,2,3. In previous years the Sophomore Clinic has tasked students with various semester-long projects including the design and construction of residential bridges, music effects pedals, golf-ball launchers, motorized cranes, and load bearing truss systems. While these projects were successful at following the national trend of integrating design into the curriculum at this early stage 4,5,6,7,8 they were not as successful in teaching students to be good designers. In other words, students could competently apply the design skills learned in connection with the projects, but they were not thinking like designers.
von Lockette, P., & Acciani, D., & Courtney, J., & Diao, C., & Riddell, W., & Dahm, K., & Harvey, R. (2006, June), Bottle Rockets And Parametric Design In A Converging Diverging Design Strategy Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--276
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