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Cornerstone Design: Product Dissection In A Common First Year Engineering Design And Graphics Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Curriculum Development and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.371.1 - 14.371.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Thomas Doyle McMaster University

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

Cornerstone Design – Product Dissection in a Common First Year Engineering Design and Graphics Course


In the senior year of an engineering program many students will have the opportunity to enroll in courses that offer Capstone engineering design projects [1]. In many engineering students’ educational career these are the most interesting and rewarding courses because they offer the student the ability to apply the culmination of their education to an engineering design problem. This is often described favourably by the student as their first “engineering” experience and in general it provides a greater appreciation for the field of engineering and a motivation for greater knowledge. If this type of experience could be offered to first year students it would significantly enhance their engineering education. However, the challenge for a first year engineering program is balancing the required background knowledge for design against a procedure for demonstration; this is an even greater challenge for a common curriculum. Just as the Capstone represents the tip of an engineer’s education, we offer the Cornerstone Design to represent the base [1-2]. The objective of the Cornerstone is to instill in first year engineers enjoyment from learning, motivation to continue learning, and genuine intellectual curiosity about the engineering in the world around them. This paper will present our work in structuring and delivering the Cornerstone Design Project as a product dissection and modeling to 1000 first year engineering students in a Design and Graphics course. The paper will also report on student feedback regarding the project and its effect on their motivation and engagement to the course material.

2. Design and Graphics in First Year Engineering

McMaster University's first year engineering class has an enrollment of 850 to 1000 students per year. It is a common first year with approximately half of the students taking the Engineering Design and Graphics course each term (September – December, January–April). In the summer term, the course is offered with a limited enrollment.

The Design and Graphics course has two primary objectives in engineering design: visualization and technical communication. Students develop graphical visualization skills through technical sketching and explore technical communication through two-dimensional and three-dimensional computer-aided design. At the conclusion of the course the student have learned the necessary skills to read engineering drawings, create engineering drawing, and how to design using the solid modeling methodology.

The Cornerstone project was first offered in the summer of 2007 to 41 students. The summer enrollment is largely composed of students that struggled with the course material during the regular session. With the high attrition rate in engineering programmes [4], there is a pressing need to motivate students through differentiated instruction and practical application. This group of students was the first test case to determine if a dissection/reverse-engineering project would effectively meet this requirement. At the conclusion of the summer course, the project was very well received by the students. The best illustration of this enthusiasm was the response

Doyle, T. (2009, June), Cornerstone Design: Product Dissection In A Common First Year Engineering Design And Graphics Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5677

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