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Development Of A Multi Level Mechanical Engineering Education Tool

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching and Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.515.1 - 12.515.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Benson Tongue University of California-Berkeley

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

Development of a Multi-level Mechanical Engineering Education Tool

1 Abstract

The design and structure of a student-based learning portal is presented. Progress through the program is determined by the particular user. No “right” way through the material is presupposed; one can move in a linear progression from low to high levels of information along a particular thread, move laterally across threads, and so on. The targeted audience are mechanical engineering students and undeclared students who may be thinking of entering mechanical engineering.

2 Introduction

A common presumption is that a student majoring in mechanical engineering knows that he or she needs particular courses for graduation, they take those courses, and they (hopefully) absorb the material. What has just been described is the hope. The reality is that, more and more frequently, students are expressing a distressingly high degree of confusion and uncertainty with regard to their education. In the “old days” one presumes it was somewhat different. Students had some experience with mechanical systems and realized on their own that this was the area they wished to pursue and had a sense as to what aspect of mechanical engineering most intrigued them.

As is by now well understood, however, the modern situation is different. All a student needs to do is demonstrate skills in math and physics in high school and they will immediately be told by their counsellors that engineering is a good fit. And the students, by and large, accept this and apply to college as prospective engineering majors. It is only after arriving at college that they begin to wonder exactly why they said they wished to be engineers - whether it really is the right avenue for them.

The intent of our work is to support the education of mechanical engineers in a way that complements traditional engineering education, as reflected in courses such as dynamics, vibrations, and so on. In such courses, the aim is to transmit a well defined body of knowledge to the enrolled students. Our concern here is rather different. Our aim is to address a broader and more diffuse set of needs. We address the question of ‘why’ and to a large degree leave the engineering classes to provide the ‘how.’ “What is the point of taking a particular class and how does it fit into a larger picture?” “Why will I need to know what a coefficient of friction is?” “I really enjoyed my first course in dynamics - so what does that mean in terms of further courses and career paths?” These are the class of inquiries we address.

These questions are typical of students who already, for one reason or another, have entered the mechanical engineering program. A different question, one which will likely become

Tongue, B. (2007, June), Development Of A Multi Level Mechanical Engineering Education Tool Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1668

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