Asee peer logo

Design of Classlab and Supporting Spaces to Enable a Multidisciplinary Hands-on First-Year Engineering Design Curriculum

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Division Experimentation and Lab-Oriented Studies - Best of DELOS

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jenna P. Carpenter Campbell University

visit author page

Dr. Carpenter is Founding Dean of Engineering at Campbell University. She is Chair of the ASEE Long-Rangge Planning Committee and the ASEE Strategic Doing Governance Team. She is a past Vice President of Professional Interest Councils for ASEE and past President of WEPAN. Currently Chair of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program Steering Committee and an ASEE PEV for General Engineering, Dr. Carpenter regularly speaks at the national level on issues related to the success of women in engineering and innovative STEM curricula.

visit author page


Lee Kemp Rynearson Campbell University

visit author page

Lee Rynearson an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Campbell University. He received a B.S. and M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2008 and earned his PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University in 2016. He also has previous experience as an instructor of engineering at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, in Kanazawa, Japan. His current research interests focus on instruction for metacognition and problem solving.

visit author page

Download Paper |


In Fall 2016, Campbell University welcomed its first cohort of engineering majors, after a year of planning, recruiting and hiring. Building a new school of engineering affords a number of unique opportunities, including the building of new venues for engineering instruction. Campbell University intends to focus on the integration of hands-on exercises into engineering instruction, with a curriculum informed by best practices, engineering education research, and the recommendations of national reports such as "Educating the Engineer of 2020."

Campbell University has taken advantage of this opportunity by adapting Louisiana Tech’s classlab concept (integrating class and lab facilities at scale) and large portions of their innovative, NSF-funded LivingWithTheLab (LWTL) curriculum. The LWTL curriculum employs hands-on, project-based instruction for first-year engineering design and demands availability of classrooms featuring equipment often restricted from wide student use by availability and safety concerns. This adaptation included developing an updated interpretation of the classlab concept (where traditional lecture and laboratory activities are seamlessly interwoven into the same course, taught in two-hour blocks) and adding new supporting spaces dedicated to collaboration and access to equipment outside of class hours. As the LWTL philosophy encourages student exploration and investigation of tools and projects outside of the scheduled class meeting times, these outside-of-class spaces enable students to take that exploration and investigation to a new level. Campbell University’s initial wave of facilities are now in use by students.

Response by students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. Some additional general working space has been added to the first-year classlab. Students have used the collaboration spaces as envisioned (and twice requested extended hours for the spaces). Lessons learned include the importance of designing space as flexible as possible and intentionally designing different classrooms in different ways to expand the numbers of ways they can be used. Classlabs for sophomore through senior year courses are being designed in a temporary building along thematic lines, grouping courses that utilize similar lab equipment together in the same classlab. Limited additional collaboration space will also be included in this temporary space. A permanent engineering building that unifies all learning and collaboration spaces is planned for the next 4 – 6 years.

This paper will outline the design, rationale, research basis, and final implementation of the first wave of new spaces, along with initial concepts for additional classlabs being built to support second and third-year courses. This paper also includes an informal examination of the response of the university community and beyond to the creation of these facilities, as well as recommendations for programs seeking to implement such classlab and supporting spaces for other hands-on curricula.

Carpenter, J. P., & Rynearson, L. K. (2017, June), Design of Classlab and Supporting Spaces to Enable a Multidisciplinary Hands-on First-Year Engineering Design Curriculum Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28120

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: © 2017 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