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Consumer Reports Inspired Introduction to Engineering Project

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Best Paper Presentations

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.400.1 - 26.400.12



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Paper Authors


Smitesh Bakrania Rowan University

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Dr. Smitesh Bakrania is an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering at Rowan University. He received his Ph.D. from University of Michigan in 2008 and his B.S. from Union College in 2003. His research interests include combustion synthesis of nanoparticles and combustion catalysis using nanoparticles. He is also involved in developing educational apps for instructional and research purposes.

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Kaitlin Engle Mallouk Rowan University Orcid 16x16

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Kaitlin Mallouk is an Instructor of Mechanical Engineering at Rowan University. She has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. She is completing her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering with a focus on Air Quality Engineering at the University of Illinois.

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Krishan Kumar Bhatia Rowan University

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Consumer Reports Inspired Introduction to Engineering Project!Freshman engineering courses play a crucial role in educating students about the variousengineering disciplines and their functions, in addition to establishing a strong analyticalfoundation. Recognizing the importance of basic experimentation techniques, a new freshmanengineering project was designed to expose students to the overall engineering profession withemphasis on developing fundamental technical and laboratory skills. The project was inspired bythe popular Consumer Reports magazine, which publishes reviews of consumer products uponrigorous testing and analytical surveys. Specifically, we note the strong overlap between corefunctions of an engineer and the process with which Consumer Reports reviews are generated.Freshman students were asked to select three brands of a consumer product for their review withinstructor consultation. The products ranged from well-marketed kitchen tools to popularchildren’s toys. The student teams designed experiments to systematically test quantifiableproperties of these products, analyze the data and recommend a specific brand. The projectenabled students to practice core engineering functions such as design of experiments,measurement, data analysis, and representation. In essence developing laboratory skills withoutnecessarily requiring a strong theoretical understanding to conduct the experiments. Mostimportantly, the project afforded students the autonomy to design their own sub-project withinthe provided constraints. The students also recognized the importance of soft skills such asteamwork, effective communication, and project management in achieving their purpose ofidentifying a superior brand. This paper presents the overall scope of the project and itsoutcomes, including the details for adopting the Consumer Reports Project within a freshmanengineering course or, alternatively, in a high school technical course. The paper highlightsimplementation, including project milestones, and assessment of this highly student-drivenhands-on project. Pre- and post-tests were conducted to assess the effectiveness of the project inachieving the project objectives. Formative student surveys indicated a very positive response tothe project, acknowledging the independence of product selection as the key aspect in makingthe project engaging. The highly flexible and scalable aspects of the project make it ideal as anintroductory engineering project focused on developing a strong experimental foundation, at thesame time providing a broad overview of the engineering profession.

Bakrania, S., & Mallouk, K. E., & Bhatia, K. K. (2015, June), Consumer Reports Inspired Introduction to Engineering Project Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23739

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