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Can Instruction On Engineering Design Be Given On Cd Ro Ms? Questions And Discussion Accompanying A Demonstration Of Mit's Edics

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.94.1 - 1.94.4



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Paper Authors

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David Gordon Wilson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I ~—-. ,-. . Session 2302

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Can instruction on engineering design be given on CD-ROMs? Questions and discussion accompanying a demonstration of MIT’s EDICS

David Gordon Wilson Massachusetts Institute of Technology

SUMMARY The reasoning and background that led to the development of a multimedia system aimed at supplement- ing instruction in engineering design are described. The usefulness of the resulting program, necessarily one of restricted scope, has been limited by the technology available. The advent of CD-ROMs promises the first opportunity of testing the effectiveness of multimedia instruction because most of the restrictions on use by instructors and students are eliminated. The contents of the present MIT multimedia program are briefly described. Questions on how the technology might be developed and used are posed and discussed.

BACKGROUND The purpose of EDICS (Engineering-Design instructional Computer System) is to improve the prepara- tion of students to tackle design projects. Today’s incoming students are mostly not people who have grownup mending cars and working in machine shops, as was the case twenty-five years ago. My design colleagues and I have been repeatedly shocked to find that bright students who have spent four years at MIT passing all their classes, including the sophomore design class(es), can do no better in the senior design-project class than to produce cartoons rather than engineering drawings. Often they are of devices that cannot be assembled. If they use bearings, fasteners, power-transmission devices and so forth they are often wildly inappropriate. We are now accustomed to students coming up afler a design lecture to ask what is a flange, a shaft, a washer and so on - terms that we naively thought were part of the common language. In fact, we used a language analogy to illus- trate the dilemma in which we were putting these students: it is as if we were asking them to write a novel in German when they had no idea of German words or grammar[ 1 ].

We must therefore provide some knowledge of the words and grammar of engineering. Yet the curricu- lum is already over-fill. We cannot add more demands to overburdened students and faculty. We want a resource that could be used to save time, rather than to take time, when design questions and problems arise. The team (acknowledged later) that developed EDICS searched unsuccessfully for suitable textbooks. We decided that even if we had the capability of writing the perfect textbook on introductory design it could not meet the need. A presentation that included clear video that could be randomly selected coupled with computer animations and as much user challenge as possible seemed to be the best that could be considered. It would clearly be second best to having students work in a hardware apprenticeship: the experiences would be vicari- ous, but in the circumstances lifelike (“virtual-reality”) experience with the components of design is far better than none.

----- . . -“ $iiii’1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ) ‘qlllq: .

Wilson, D. G. (1996, June), Can Instruction On Engineering Design Be Given On Cd Ro Ms? Questions And Discussion Accompanying A Demonstration Of Mit's Edics Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5905

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