Asee peer logo

Development and Evolution of a New Mechanical Design Laboratory Course

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

ME Laboratories and Undergraduate Research

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.408.1 - 24.408.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Steven P Marra P.E. Johns Hopkins University

visit author page

Steven P. Marra received his B.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, in 1998 and 2001, respectively, all in mechanical engineering. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in mechanical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include soft and hard tissue biomechanics, nonlinear mechanics of solids, mechanics of tissue damage, and undergraduate engineering education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Development and evolution of a new mechanical design laboratory courseA new sophomore-level mechanical design laboratory course was developed two years ago at to support a required lecture course entitled . The laboratory course was created because students requested more instruction aboutmachine components and they desired additional hands-on design experiences. The laboratorycourse is structured into three components which build on each other throughout the semester.Weekly lectures introduce the students to various machine components, terminology, standards,and design tools and methodologies. Weekly laboratories provide the students with opportunitiesto apply the lecture material to real machine components and systems and to develop practicalskills in design and machining. Each laboratory includes three separate activities for the studentsto perform, and almost all of the laboratory equipment was designed and constructed in-housespecifically for the course. The third component of the course is a design project, which isassigned at the beginning of the semester and requires the students to integrate what they learnfrom the weekly lectures and laboratories, in addition to the material they learn in the lecture course. The students work in small teams to design and builda mechanical device to meet a set of performance and budget specifications. The devices aretested at the end of the semester and the students submit a design report for evaluation.The mechanical design laboratory course was added to the curriculum in the Spring of 2012 andincluded five lecture topics and five laboratories. The subjects of these lectures and laboratoriesincluded screws and threaded fasteners, bearings, gears, pressure vessels, fits and tolerances,finite element modeling, and mechanical failure. Additional lectures and laboratories were addedin 2013, including two laboratories at the start of the semester in which the students learn how tooperate a milling machine and a lathe. Subsequent laboratories require the students to use one ofthese machines to fabricate a component of their design for a specific activity. Additionalchanges are planned for the 2014 course offering, including a new laboratory on belt and chaindrives, and a new design project.The purpose of this paper is to relate the successes, failures, and evolution of the new mechanicaldesign laboratory course, including the reactions from students, teaching assistants, andmechanical engineering faculty. The lecture topics, laboratory activities, and design projects willbe explained in detail. Assessment tools used to gauge the quality of the educational experiencewill also be discussed.

Marra, S. P. (2014, June), Development and Evolution of a New Mechanical Design Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20299

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: © 2014 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