June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.515.1 - 12.515.13
Development of a Multi-level Mechanical Engineering Education Tool
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.
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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