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Design of a Curriculum-Spanning Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Experiment

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Using Laboratories for Instruction in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Heather Dillon University of Portland Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Heather Dillon is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Portland. Her teaching focuses on thermodynamics, heat transfer, renewable energy, and optimization of energy systems. She currently leads a research team working on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and fundamental heat transfer. Before joining the university, Heather Dillon worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as a senior research engineer.

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Nathan Schmedake University of Portland


Karen Elizabeth Eifler University of Portland

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I am a teacher educator with a special interest in teacher induction and retention.

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Timothy A Doughty University of Portland

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Dr. Timothy A. Doughty received his BS and MS from Washington State University in Mechanical and Materials Engineering and his Ph. D. from Purdue University. He has taught at Purdue, Smith College, and is now an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Portland. From 2009 to 2001 he served as a Faculty Scholar with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and has served as the Dundon-Berchtold Fellow of Ethics for the Donald. P. Shiley School of Engineering. His research is in nonlinear vibrations as it applies to structural health monitoring, and assistive technology. He is currently working on grants related to teaching in STEM fields and laboratory curricular development and is active in developing international research opportunities for undergraduates.

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Ken Lulay University of Portland

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BSME, University of Portland, 1984
MSME, University of Portland, 1987
PhD, University of Washington, 1990
Hyster Co., 1984-1987
Boeing 1990-1998
Associate Prof, University of Portland, Current

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This paper describes a laboratory experiment that was designed to facilitate education in material science, instrumentation and controls, and thermal sciences. The laboratory module is part of a broader effort to enhance mechanical engineering laboratory curriculum to incorporate modern pedagogical methods and to improve a defined set of student outcomes.

The laboratory experiment focuses on a low-cost toaster oven that has been modified to allow students to control temperature and fan operation through either LabVIEW or Arduino systems. The oven experiment has been designed to facilitate long-term testing in the material science laboratory, sensing and control of the temperature in the oven during the mechanical systems laboratory, and precise heating of specimens during the senior level thermal systems laboratory.

To assess the effectiveness of the laboratory experiment a student survey was administered and results indicate the new laboratory experiment has been successful in improving student engagement.

Dillon, H., & Schmedake, N., & Eifler, K. E., & Doughty, T. A., & Lulay, K. (2016, June), Design of a Curriculum-Spanning Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Experiment Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26679

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