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Bringing Smart Materials Applications into a Project-Based First-Year Engineering Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Aerospace First-Year Project-Based Learning

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Page Count


Page Numbers

22.298.1 - 22.298.14

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Paper Authors


Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Kristi J. Shryock is a Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received both a B.S. and M.S. in
Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M and received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M in May 2011. Her research work focuses on engineering education.

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Kaushik Das Texas A&M University, College Station

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Department of Aerospace Engineering

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Stephen Oehler Texas A&M University

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Jacques C. Richard Texas A&M University


Dimitris C. Lagoudas Texas A&M University

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D. C. Lagoudas currently is the Department Head and the inaugural recipient of the John and Bea Slattery Chair in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. He also serves as the Director for the Texas Institute for Intelligent Materials and Structures (TiiMS). His research involves the design, characterization and modeling of multifunctional material systems at nano, micro and macro levels. During the past two decades he has published extensively on the subject of shape memory alloys with his students, postdoctoral associates and colleagues and several of his journal papers are now considered classic papers in the field. He served as an Associate Vice President for Research for Texas A&M University from 2001 - 2004, and as the first chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Program at TAMU. He has been involved with curriculum innovations and engineering education throughout his career, notably with the Foundation Coalition, where he focused on restructuring the sophomore year engineering curriculum.

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Bringing Aerospace Applications into a Project-Based First-Year Engineering CourseFaculty members at a large public university have made significant strides in using project-basedlearning in a first-year engineering course to promote understanding of mathematics and scienceand the practice of engineering. Project specifications developed and utilized for the last sixyears ensure students use mathematics and science concepts in the engineering process of designand modeling to make performance predictions prior to the build and then use the build to verifyresults.Seeking to excite freshman students about aerospace applications in the first-year, facultymembers and graduate students in the Aerospace Engineering department at the Institutiondeveloped projects involving smart materials. While smart materials have been used in manyaerospace applications, their introduction into the curriculum is lagging behind. However, thereare many simple ideas that can be tested with even freshmen undergraduate students taking theirfirst engineering courses. Smart materials provide the opportunity for explaining very importantengineering principles, e.g., energy conversion, actuation, etc. By introducing projects usingsmart materials, students learn about their applications, their relationship to the aerospace field,and the potential for material science as a future research goal. Through the use of smartmaterials and standard Lego Mindstorm kits, the projects can be assembled easily withoutextensive fabrication expertise, thus highlighting the engineering design process. This paper willpresent specifications for two projects developed involving smart materials, provide details onthe implementation, and summarize results from the project.

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