June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.359.1 - 11.359.11
CONVERGING-DIVERGING APPROACH TO DESIGN IN THE SOPHOMORE ENGINEERING CLINIC
Abstract The Rowan University Sophomore Engineering Clinic is a two-semester sequence intended to teach engineering design and communication. Historically, the course has been taught with semester-long projects, one in the fall and one in the spring. An example from the fall 2003 and 2004 semesters was the Hoistinator project. Student teams of 4-5 were challenged to build a crane that could lift at least 420 pounds, using no more than 75 cubic inches of aluminum and 50 cubic inches of plastic. Teams would receive a score that was directly proportional to the amount of weight lifted, and inversely proportional to the amount of material used. The project was successful in many respects but there was room for improvement in the students’ overall approach to the design problem. Students were generally successful at using statics to predict their crane’s performance, but the cranes they designed and built were generally not well optimized. Many student teams chose a basic design quickly and after investigating few, if any, alternatives, and in many cases important decisions were made without a quantitative analysis.
For the 2005-06 academic year, the faculty team addressed this shortcoming by providing a converging/diverging model for teaching design. Students are going through a sequence of design problems of increasing complexity: the fall employed a four week project on designing bottle rockets, a 10-week version of the Hoistinator project, to be followed by a full semester design project in the spring. Students in the fall were required to document their approach to these problems in detail, showing specific evidence of divergent design and convergent design and specific rationales for the final decisions resulting from these processes. This paper will explain the convergent-divergent design model, provide a description of the design projects, and present a comparative assessment of the effectiveness of this approach compared to the previous year’s offering of Sophomore Engineering Clinic.
The Sophomore Clinic is a four semester-hour course team taught by the College of Communication and the College of Engineering. Typically, the course has approximately 120 students divided into six sections. The faculty team consists of two or three instructors from the College of Communication and five from the College of Engineering, with each of the four Rowan engineering disciplines (Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical) represented. Students have two 75-minute lecture sessions and one 160-minute laboratory session each week.
During the lecture sections students receive instruction on technical communication, specifically, technical writing in the fall and public speaking in the spring. Each section has one Communications faculty member for the semester, and for these faculty, each section is viewed as a 3-hour course for workload purposes. In the laboratory portion of the course, three sections meet simultaneously. Consequently, for the engineering faculty, there are two lab sessions each week, each consisting of 60-65 students, and five instructors. For workload purposes this is viewed as a 3-hour course for each member of the engineering faculty.
Dahm, K., & Acciani, D., & Courtney, J., & Diao, C., & Harvey, R., & Riddell, W., & Pietrucha, B., & von Lockette, P. (2006, June), Converging Diverging Approach To Design In The Sophomore Engineering Clinic Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--318
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015