Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.360.1 - 6.360.4
Development and Implementation of a Common Investigative Methods Course for Undergraduate Engineering Students
Marty Matlock, Scott Osborn, Wayne LePori, and Cady Engler, Department of Agricultural Engineering Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Introduction A common concern among engineering faculty is that our students, while competent with engineering design concepts and processes, are increasingly incompetent in pragmatic application of those concepts. Historically students with an interest in engineering “tinkered” with things, had experience building and testing ideas, and generally knew their way around a toolbox. That understanding can no longer be assumed, as technological processes increasingly are treated as black boxes.1 In response to this concern we developed and have taught a course designed to introduce sophomore students in engineering to field and laboratory techniques used in biological systems, agricultural, and environmental engineering. Our experience has been that students are generally very resistant to discovery-based laboratories since by definition this approach lacks explicit step-by-step guidance.
The primary objective of the course is to provide students with physical applications of theoretical concepts. This course is a common requirement across the undergraduate curricula for Biological Systems Engineering and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University, linking freshman and sophomore engineering science courses to junior and senior-level courses through common design concepts and projects. Students work in small groups to design and conduct experiments over the course of the semester. Students are introduced to these techniques through hands-on investigation of engineering concepts, involving processes as simple as wiring of motors, assembling and testing pumping arrays, and measuring potentiometric gradients, to processes as complex as designing and programming analog and digital systems. Students communicate the results of their work in weekly laboratory reports. A faculty member with expertise in that specific topic area teaches the lecture component of each section. The pedagogic strategy is to provide students with experience that supports the theory they are learning in foundation engineering courses and to link the concepts of conservation of mass and energy across disciplinary focus areas (biosystems, mechanical, food, environmental). The course is structured as one hour of lecture followed by two laboratory sessions of three hours each, for three semester credit hours. Students work in teams of three, with an enrollment of 36 for the first year. We developed the course with five sections: 1) Investigative Methods, 2) Mechatronics, 3) Environmental Processes, 4) Energy Systems, and 5) Geo-Metrics.
Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education
LePori, W., & Osborn, S., & Matlock, M., & Engler, C. (2001, June), Development And Implementation Of A Common Investigative Methods Course For Undergraduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/9110
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: © 2001 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