June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.357.1 - 12.357.12
Common to all civil and mechanical engineering programs are mechanics courses that are typically taught from a discipline specific perspective. Basic mechanics concepts are first introduced in physics courses often taken during the freshman year and then developed in sophomore level courses such as Statics, Strength of Materials and Dynamics. Transferring knowledge gained in these courses to discipline specific upper level courses is often a struggle for students.
During the 2004-05 academic year, faculty at the University of New Haven began the implementation of a new curriculum that stresses development of professional and technical skills during the first two years, while introducing basic engineering concepts. The Multi- Disciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral (MDEFS) is a four-semester sequence of engineering courses (EAS prefix), matched closely with the development of students’ mathematical sophistication and analytical capabilities and integrated with course work in the sciences1. The purpose behind restructuring the curriculum was to take advantage of common professional and technical skill development that was repeated in the older, more traditional curriculum. The EAS sequence builds upon common problem solving courses that teach the core content areas with greater breadth and without the traditional narrow depth. As the students enter disciplinary courses in their junior and senior years, the traditional depth is still present, but it is hoped that the students have a broader view of engineering and are more able to work in the multidisciplinary environment of the engineer of 2020.
At the core of any problem in mechanics is a basic solutions approach that is common to thermofluid systems, electrical systems and other systems. The new curriculum emphasizes problem solving for a variety of systems through the use of conservation and accounting principles2. This paper addresses how mechanics topics are threaded through the EAS sequence of courses, and how mastery of these topics is being assessed in the first semester junior level mechanics courses.
The sequence of courses taken by students during their first two years in the traditional curriculum reflects a traditional approach to learning mechanics in civil (CE) and mechanical (ME) engineering programs. Students took their first physics course, PH150 Mechanics/Heat/Waves, in the traditional curriculum second semester freshman year in which they were introduced to basic particle kinematics and kinetics and force resolution. First semester sophomore year, students gained an understanding of the behavior of simple structures under various loadings, and investigated stresses and deformations as they relate to the design of simple mechanisms and structures in CE205 Statics and Strengths. This 4 credit course combined topics from both Statics and Strength of Materials traditionally taught as separate courses. The need to reduce overall credits in both the civil and mechanical engineering programs dictated the change to this combined course in the late 1990s. CE205 was taught by faculty in the civil engineering program and taken by both civil and mechanical engineering
Nocito-Gobel, J., & Broderick, G., & Daniels, S., & Collura, M., & Stanley, R. (2007, June), Civil And Mechanical Engineering Students Learning Mechanics In A Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2570
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