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Development Of An Introduction To Mechanical Engineering Design Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.421.1 - 7.421.10



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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth DeBartolo

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

Main Menu Session 2793

Development of an Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design Course

Elizabeth A. DeBartolo Mechanical Engineering Department Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 14623

Abstract Beginning in the Fall 2001 quarter, a course entitled “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design” (IMD) was offered to a group of 16 first year ME students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) on a trial basis. This course is intended to eventually replace a disjointed three-course sequence taught over the course of the first two years of the curriculum: Materials Processing, Engineering Design Graphics, and Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing. All three courses are currently required, as the information they present is certainly all relevant and necessary for graduating engineers. The manner in which it is presented, however, is in need of improvement. In reality, design engineers need to be able to combine and apply the skills learned in these classes to generate complete designs. IMD will teach students the same concepts as the existing courses, only the content will be taught in the context of two design projects spanning two 10-week quarters. In the new 2-quarter, 5-6 hours per week course, students complete one short design on paper and one larger, Rube Goldberg type design where all 16 students work together to design and build a functional system. Since IMD is only offered to freshmen, all analysis is based solely on fundamental physics. In this way, the students are exposed to the entire design process: concept generation; formalized design, analysis, and construction phases; and finally, testing and evaluation of the device(s).

Motivation The Mechanical Engineering curriculum at RIT suffers from a lack of formal engineering design experience in the early years of undergraduate study. Students are introduced to Mechanical Engineering through a series of courses in Materials Processing, Engineering Design Graphics, and Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing over the course of their first two years. While these courses present information that is critical to the design process, the material is presented in a discontinuous method relying on a “you will need to use this later” justification. In addition, these courses are spread out over quarters 1, 2, and 6 in the course sequence, with no actual application to a comprehensive design project until the 11th quarter when they take Senior Design. By teaching the same material integrated with a project, students will immediately see the value of what they are learning, and will have more motivation to retain that knowledge. Since it is impossible to condense 3 quarters of existing course material into two, in addition to adding new material, more responsibility will be given to the students. They can only be presented with the basics in each area; the rest is up to them to discover on their own as the need arises. The ability to learn on their own is an invaluable skill that will serve them well in later ME courses.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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DeBartolo, E. (2002, June), Development Of An Introduction To Mechanical Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10741

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