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Development of an Introduction to Circuits Course and Lab for Mechanical Engineering Students via Systematic Design of Instruction

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Bobby G Crawford P.E. Quinnipiac University

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Grant Crawford, PhD, P.E., Colonel (retired) U.S. Army, is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Director of Career Development for the School of Engineering at Quinnipiac University. He is the former Director of the Mechanical Engineering Program at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Grant graduated from West Point in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He earned a M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas in 2004. He has taught courses in aeronautics, thermal-fluid systems, heat transfer, computer-aided design, circuits, and aerospace and mechanical engineering design. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and is a rated pilot in both rotary and fixed wing aircraft.

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Jose Antonio Riofrio Quinnipiac University

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José A Riofrío received his B.S. in Engineering Physics from Elizabethtown College in 2003, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2005 and 2008, respectively. At Vanderbilt, José focused his research in controls, mechatronics and mechanical design. After obtaining his Ph.D., José worked in the Fluid Power industry designing servo-pneumatic control systems for various motion-control applications, such as packaging, automation, and animatronics. In the fall of 2011,became an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Western New England University, where he taught various courses in solid mechanics, mechatronics, and first-year engineering. In the fall of 2015, José joined the faculty at Quinnipiac University (Hamden, CT) as an Assistant Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering, where he teaches courses in Circuits, Controls, Solid Mechanics, and Data Acquisition.

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Richard Melnyk U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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COL Rich Melnyk is an Army Aviator and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, a PE in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA in Technology Management and recently commanded an Army Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia.

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In the traditional Mechanical Engineering undergraduate curriculum, students are typically required to take a single introductory Circuits course. Such a course is usually designed and taught by Electrical Engineering (EE) faculty and taken by students from various Engineering disciplines, including EE. At [our university], there is no EE program and only Mechanical Engineering students are required to take an introductory Circuits Course. This presented an opportunity to carefully design a course tailored to the specific needs of our students in the context of our curriculum, the post-graduation expectations of our constituents, and current trends in electromechanical system integration. Furthermore, with Mechanical Engineering being a new program at [our university], there was also a rare opportunity to design a Circuits laboratory space from scratch (infrastructure and equipment). The main focus of this work is the application of the Systematic Design of Instruction (SDI) towards the design of an Introduction to Circuits course specifically intended for undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students and taught by Mechanical Engineering faculty. The SDI, developed by Walter Dick and Lou Carey, is a comprehensive process which begins with the identification of main instructional goals and carefully formulates an instructional strategy based on students’ entry and subordinate skills, performance objectives, assessment instruments, and a cyclical formative evaluation of the course for continuous improvement. As a result of SDI application, our Introduction to Circuits course provides students with foundational knowledge in DC and AC circuits, as well as some building-block knowledge for future courses in Mechatronics, Controls and Data Acquisition (motors, generators, diodes, strain gages, voltage regulators, and op amps). An accompanying 1-credit lab was also developed using the SDI process, adopting the National Instruments ELVIS and Circuit Design Suite as the main instrumentation platform and software. In addition to reinforcing concepts learned in the course, this lab serves to build practical and hands-on skills in breadboarding, circuit instrumentation and testing, soldering, Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design and circuit simulation. For the final project, students apply the knowledge and skills learned in the course and lab to design, simulate, prototype, test and build a multi-output DC power supply. The final circuits are embodied via PCBs which the students design, order, populate and solder. The success of this course is assessed via faculty assessment of students’ projects and anonymous end-of-semester student feedback surveys. Students are asked to self-evaluate their abilities in every course objective, as well as provide written feedback regarding the course, lab and design project. In addition, evidence of proficiency in circuit design and implementation is manifested in students’ subsequent Senior Capstone Projects, in which some groups have designed and built PCBs to power and embody the main electronic components in their designed systems. Some such examples are presented in this paper.

Crawford, B. G., & Riofrio, J. A., & Melnyk, R. (2018, June), Development of an Introduction to Circuits Course and Lab for Mechanical Engineering Students via Systematic Design of Instruction Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30327

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