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Development Of An Assessment Plan For A New Sequence Of Design Courses

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Educational Research & Methods Poster Session

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.413.1 - 15.413.13



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Paper Authors


Robert Ryan

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Robert Ryan is an Associate Professor at California State University, Northridge. He has been supervising CSUN's Human Powered Vehicle design team for the last five years, and is also the coordinator for the ME Department's assessment process.

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Nhut Ho

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Nhut Ho is an Associate Professor at California State University, Northridge. He is actively working to integrate CDIO concepts into CSUN's mechanical engineering curriculum.

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Shelley Bartenstein

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Shelley Bartenstein is a Research Specialist at California State University, Northridge, and has an extensive background in education research.

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

Development of an Assessment Plan for a New Sequence of Design Courses


A new sequence of mechanical design courses was developed at California State University, Northridge to improve the integration of design concepts into the mechanical engineering curriculum. The new courses were created using the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) framework as the context for engineering education. Key goals of the new sequence are to increase student performance and retention, particularly in the first two years of the program. Courses in the new sequence were part of a significant mechanical engineering program change, and are being offered for the first time in the Fall 2009 semester. A key feature of the new course sequence is requiring students to work in a team environment on design projects of increasing complexity as they move through the program, to ensure that students develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes required to be successful design engineers in industry. Development of an effective assessment plan is critical for measuring the benefits of this new course sequence. Since the courses in the design sequence are taught by a large number of faculty, and a significant number of part-time faculty, a uniform set of evaluation tools was developed which will be used for every course in the sequence. This paper describes the rubrics developed, and some preliminary evaluation data which was collected to test and calibrate the rubrics.


Integration of design into the lower division of the mechanical engineering curriculum at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has been an effort that dates back to the self- study document written for the 2001 ABET review. Curriculum changes which evolved from that review included a two course sophomore design sequence (ME 286A and ME 286B). The first course focused on design methodology, manufacturing processes, and the use of SolidWorks software, and introduced students to the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) framework as a template for the practice of engineering. The second course covered computer tools used for analysis to support the design process, especially programming with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) within the Microsoft Excel environment, but also included a brief introduction to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) using CosmosWorks. A detailed description of these courses and some preliminary assessment results from the 2005 time frame were given by Ryan and Ho in 20061.

After this new course sequence was offered for several years, and feedback was collected via the Department’s assessment process, it was felt that a more comprehensive approach toward revision of the design sequence was required. In particular, it was noted that our students’ readiness for senior design was still very non-uniform, which left some students unable to contribute effectively to their capstone projects. A faculty committee was formed which included three full time faculty as well as two long time part-time faculty who had been teaching courses related to design, including the 286A/B sequence. The committee’s charge from the Department

Ryan, R., & Ho, N., & Bartenstein, S. (2010, June), Development Of An Assessment Plan For A New Sequence Of Design Courses Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16666

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