June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.352.1 - 13.352.10
Decision-Making in the Design-Build Process among First-Year Engineering Students
Students in a first-year engineering program at The Ohio State University are required to complete a quarter-long course which incorporates a team-based, design-build final project. Design skills among first-year students are often found to be rudimentary, and teaching the skills necessary for students to successfully complete a design-build project remains a constant challenge. The final project requires the design and construction of a functional roller coaster model using material from a custom-made kit provided to the students. Key components of the project are: initial design, analysis and revision, initial construction and testing, design changes (to correct defects and meet performance requirements), final design, and measurement and performance analysis. The teams submit preliminary designs as 2D drawings, with the option to use 3D CAD software (Autodesk Inventor 2008©). They then develop initial energy models of their coasters using Excel, use their results to find design problems, and revise their design. Once they have approved revisions, they begin to build their coasters. Upon completing the coaster requirements, students document their final design, including a revised Excel energy model. In order to validate their designs, students use eight custom-made speed sensors that they attach to the coaster track to measure the speed of the coaster car at critical locations along the track. Speed measurements are captured in LabVIEW, analyzed, and submitted in a final report as evidence of how well the Excel design model reflected the actual behavior of the roller coaster. The project culminates with competitions among teams, concluding with an oral presentation by each team on lessons learned and recommended design and construction improvements. This paper emphasizes how students who have little or no prior engineering experience conceptualize and represent a complex design problem and how they use both theoretical models and actual test data to make informed design decisions.
In 2001, the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University introduced significant changes into the curriculum for all first-year engineering students, with the addition of hands-on laboratory projects and team-based design and build projects1,2. The motivations for doing so at the first-year level were threefold: (1) to achieve significant improvement in the year-to-year retention rate of engineering students, especially through graduation, (2) to expose students early to realistic engineering projects containing elements of uncertainty, risk, and many acceptable solutions, and (3) to cultivate teamwork, project management, creative thinking and effective communication skills.
While certain aspects of improvement are difficult to quantify, the first-year program has been successful in all three areas, aided by higher admission standards, direct enrollment to the College, and improved advising strategies. For example, 86% of the Autumn 2006 first-quarter
Schlosser, P., & Parke, M., & Merrill, J. (2008, June), Decision Making In The Design Build Process Among First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4215
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