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Design Of A Laboratory To Teach Design Of Experiments

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.166.1 - 4.166.6

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Paper Authors

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J. Morehouse

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Edward Young

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Jed S. Lyons

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

Session 2566

Design of a Laboratory to Teach Design of Experiments Jed S. Lyons, Jeffrey H. Morehouse and Edward F. Young Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of South Carolina


A capstone mechanical engineering laboratory course is being revised in order to develop a student’s ability to confidently design and conduct experiments involving complex thermo- mechanical systems. This paper and the associated presentation describe the laboratory experiences that are being implemented to develop this ability. The approach includes an integrated series of experiments on a racecar. The amount of student design of experiments increases with each laboratory experiment in the series. The course culminates in a true "open ended" design of an experiment.


The Mechanical Engineering program at the University of South Carolina includes a capstone laboratory course titled "Engineering Systems Laboratory." A major objective of this laboratory is for the students to gain the ability to design experiments on complex mechanical engineering systems. “Design of experiments” in the sense used here describes the process of identifying the important parameters associated with a complex thermo-mechanical system; selecting sensors appropriate to the measurement of these parameters; designing tests of the system in which these parameters are measured and recorded, and finally evaluating the system performance by analyzing the data collected. The engineering education literature contains numerous references to methods for teaching statistical design of experiments in the 1, 2, 3. However, teaching methods and educational materials that enable mechanical engineering students to develop true "design of experiments skills" are not presently available.

A project is underway to demonstrate that the Engineering Systems Laboratory develops the students’ ability to confidently design and conduct experiments involving complex thermo- mechanical systems. The laboratory also develops their understanding of mechanical engineering systems and gives them experience in applying computer-based instrumentation to study system performance, exercising their life learning skills, documenting their results in writing, and making oral technical presentations. The course is based upon an integrated sequence of laboratory experiments on an automobile and its subsystems. The automobile is chosen as the system to study because it is compact, relatively inexpensive and in the direct realm of experience of most students. More importantly, its many complex subsystems provide opportunities for the students to apply the spectrum of their mechanical engineering knowledge, including the principles of mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and controls.

The project described herein is an extension of work being performed with the support from the NSF DUE ILI Program. The goal of the ILI project (NSF 98-50749 “A Vehicle for Delivering a Mechanical Systems Laboratory Experience”) is to procure all of the equipment and

Morehouse, J., & Young, E., & Lyons, J. S. (1999, June), Design Of A Laboratory To Teach Design Of Experiments Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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