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Component Functional Templates As An Engineering Design Teaching Aid

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Capstone Design III

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.388.1 - 12.388.13



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Abbott University of Missouri

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Katie Grantham Lough University of Missouri

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

A Review of Component Functional Templates as an Engineering Design Education Aid Abstract

Functional modeling is an essential part of engineering design education. At the University of Missouri-Rolla, functional modeling is taught in an introductory engineering design course, required of every freshman-engineering student, and is exhibited through some graduate student level courses as well. In these courses, often an active learning reverse engineering experimentation is used to introduce the students to functional modeling. They are required to hypothesize the function of toys such as a foam disc launcher or a Bumble Ball, and then dissect the toy to determine the actual functions portrayed inside the product. The functions are then compiled into a full system model of the product. After completing this engaging in-class activity however, the quality of the functional models produced individually by the students was not desirable. These results displayed a clear disconnect between thinking in terms of a product’s components and a product’s functionality. Therefore, a survey was conducted of both sophomore and graduate level engineering students about their functional modeling learning experience. Based on the in-class activity and survey results, an educational tool, component functional templates, was derived to address this need that links common product components with generally recognized functionality. It is expected that, as a functional modeling teaching aid, the component functional templates will help the students associate functionality to components and in time, begin to think functionally during the engineering design process.

1.0 Introduction

Modeling and designing systems and sub-systems in terms of their functionality as opposed to the physical components they contain has been the focus of many separate efforts within the past couple of decades1-3 including experimental validation tests4. Since functional modeling has become such an important method associated with engineering in conceptual design, more attention has been given to method development and teaching it in engineering design classes. Related research has been devoted to structuring5, 6 and presenting the design information that can be found throughout the designing and modeling processes in ways that are easily accessible and interactive7, 8 and that aid in the interpretation of the information to determine likelihood of failure9. Also, previous attempts have been made to form a number of functional templates based on highly specialized space mission subsystems10, but they are not general enough to use as a common building block for other products. All of these tools and advancements add to the potential of a highly accurate and well developed model being produced, but even with these great strides of function-related improvement, students are failing to grasp the basic, necessary concepts in order to functional model properly.

An introductory design course that is taught regularly at the University of Missouri-Rolla presents the functional modeling method to students, the first time for many, through an active learning experience called reverse engineering and also through common lecture practices. These techniques are routinely presented in a fast paced environment during the time span of about seven days, which is the maximum time allowed due to other material that must be covered throughout the course. Aside from the introductory design course, a variety of

Abbott, D., & Grantham Lough, K. (2007, June), Component Functional Templates As An Engineering Design Teaching Aid Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3012

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