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Challenges and Evolution of Combined and Separate Thermodynamics Courses in a Mechanical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Technology Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.268.1 - 24.268.9

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Paper Authors


Martin William Weiser Eastern Washington University

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Martin Weiser is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Design Department at Eastern Washington University. He earned his BS in Ceramic Engineering from the Ohio State University and his MS and PhD in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He then joined the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of New Mexico where he taught Materials Science, Thermodynamics, Manufacturing Engineering, and Technical Communication. Martin then joined Johnson Matthey Electronics/Honeywell Electronic Materials where he held positions in Technical Service, Product Management, Six Sigma, and Research & Development. He is an inventor on a dozen patents and patent applications and has published over 30 papers and book chapters on topics including ceramic processing, Pb-free solder development, experimental design, and biomechanics. His current research focuses on rocket propellant characterization, fin flutter, and heat transfer.

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Hani Serhal Saad Eastern Washington University


Robert E. Gerlick Eastern Washington University

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Dr. Gerlick is Assistant Professor at Eastern Washington University in the Engineering and Design Department. He teaches courses in Thermodynamics, Fluids, CAD, and Capstone.

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Challenges and Evolution of Combined and Separate Thermodynamics Courses in a Mechanical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Technology ProgramIn 2010 the engineering department at a mid-sized regional university added a mechanicalengineering program to its already established mechanical engineering technology program. Aspart of the transition new courses were developed for the pure ME program and some wereredesigned to include both programs. Thermodynamics, for instance, was taught as a single classfor both ME and MET students initially, with the same outcomes and requirements for eachgroup. This coupled-course approach was also taken for other courses, as deemed practical andappropriate. This resulted in challenges to both the students from each group as well as to thefaculty. MET students, for instance, were required to take only calculus I and II while MEstudents often had already completed calculus IV and differential equations, resulting in adilemma for faculty attempting to present a calculus-based curriculum. The students from eachprogram also had different goals and expectations, which further made it difficult to designcourse content that was appropriate to all and also meet the program requirements. To addressthese issues, in 2013 the thermodynamics course was split into two separate courses for ME andMET students, with student pre- and co-requisites, program objectives, and curriculumsestablished specifically for each program.Throughout the development of the new ME program, student learning data were collected forall students going through both the ME and MET thermodynamics course (as well as othercourses), in order to help inform the faculty on how well the courses were meeting objectives.Two specific assessments were used: a student survey addressing how well the course met thecourse objectives, and assignment grades tied to each course objective. Results from theseassessments have helped direct the continuous development of these courses over the pastseveral years. The objective of this paper is to present these data and the evolution of thethermodynamics course from purely MET, through combined ME & MET, and finally to theseparate ME & MET courses. A qualitative review is also given on particular student challengesand impacts and on the program’s experiences throughout this transition and development.

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