Asee peer logo

Design Project Design For An Elementary Strength Of Materials Course

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mechanics Education Programs and Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.374.1 - 13.374.17

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Cliff Lissenden Pennsylvania State University

author page

Nicholas Salamon Pennsylvania State University

author page

Andrew Miller Pennsylvania State University

Download Paper |

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

Design Project Design for an Elementary Strength of Materials Course Abstract

Our goal is to enable deeper learning by undergraduate engineering students via experience with an open-ended design project. In addition to knowledge, comprehension, and application, engineering design requires students to analyze and synthesize. Furthermore, students must practice divergent thinking to explore the entire design space, which is an immensely important skill for developing creative and effective solutions. Learning design via a team-based design project promotes cognitive skills, social skills, management skills, and positive personal traits.

Design and development of an open ended design project is discussed. The team-based project progresses over approximately ten weeks in an elementary strength of materials course. This provides a significant design experience for engineering students that helps bridge the gap between the first-year engineering design course and the capstone design project that engineering students typically do in their senior year. The project requires student teams to: work together, apply standards, create a conceptual design, select appropriate materials, identify applied loading scenarios, perform the design analysis, check design calculations from another team, create design drawings, estimate the cost, and write a design report.

In order to accomplish all this in a course like strength of materials, which is laden with analysis, the project must be well organized and accompanied with web-based tools. This paper discusses design of the design project, course content that is beyond the traditional strength of materials course coverage, and development of web-based tools that make this possible. The web-based tools provide guidance on: the design process with interactive examples, analysis and simulation, materials properties and selection, administering team projects (for instructors), working team projects (for students), as well as environmental, economical, social, and ethical issues.


Engineers apply scientific knowledge and mathematics to design things (e.g., products, structures, systems, methods) that benefit mankind. The act of designing a product, device, or system requires analysis and synthesis. The key words above: knowledge, apply, analysis, and synthesis, comprise four of the six levels of Bloom’s hierarchical taxonomy of learning1 in the cognitive domain.2 Design requires synthesis, which in turn requires analysis, application, comprehension, and knowledge. In addition, and of critical importance, design demands more than simply applying facts correctly; it requires divergent-convergent thinking.3 Dym et al.3, provide a historical review of the role of design in the engineering curriculum. Other recent articles on engineering design projects include Moretti et al.4 on using design problems to assess life-long learning and Smith5 on how a design course can self regenerate itself to remain current. The present work builds upon the articles of Salamon and Engel6,7 on design projects in engineering mechanics.

Lissenden, C., & Salamon, N., & Miller, A. (2008, June), Design Project Design For An Elementary Strength Of Materials Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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: © 2008 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