June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
Designing a Laboratory Ecosystem Framework, and Scaffolding an Interactive Internal Combustion Engine
Interactive experimental methodology and systems level analysis tie together core concepts of Engineering with real-world practice, but effective experimental devices can require immense effort to develop and, when designed poorly, can add huge cognitive load (or learning pain) with little benefit. This paper presents a modular laboratory ‘ecosystem’ and methods for leveraging the tools and resources of the ecosystem to build scaffolded threads across an engineering curriculum. As an example, the ecosystem powers a progression across Junior Experimental Methods and Senior Systems Laboratory culminating with an in-depth analysis of an Internal Combustion Engine (at a scale of 280-300 Mechanical Engineering students per semester). The curriculum introduces instrumentation, calibration, and low-level analysis concepts in the Junior year, and then leverages students’ experience to power a Senior-level multi-week progression studying an energy balance between flywheel inertia, piston inertia, air pressure, and thermal effects of the engine. Students isolate each effect through targeted instrumentation, and disassembling of components (eg. the head) to created simplified sub-systems. The engine can also use alternative forms of power such as an electric motor, compressed air, or propane to mitigate safety concerns and provide additional layers of analysis. The modular ecosystem allows students to instrument the engine with ecosystem components (force transducers, timing sensors, motors, etc.) used in previous projects/courses, avoiding negative cognitive load and saving development effort. Adopting common ecosystem equipment across multiple universities can also allow greater collaboration and shared curriculum development.
MacNair, D., & Torello, D. E., & Donnell, J. A. (2019, June), Designing a Laboratory Ecosystem Framework, and Scaffolding an Interactive Internal Combustion Engine Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32611
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