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Different Lab Formats in Introduction to Engineering Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Experiential Learning Initiatives

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jiahui Song Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Jiahui Song received her B.S. in Automation and M.S. in Pattern Recognition & Intelligent Systems from Southeast University. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Old Dominion University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Technology at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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Gloria Guohua Ma Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Gloria Ma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology. She has been teaching robotics with Lego Mindstorm to ME freshmen for several years. She is actively involved in community services of offering robotics workshops to middle- and high-school girls. Her research interests are dynamics and system modeling, geometry modeling, project based engineering design, and robotics in manufacturing.

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Introduction to engineering is a required course for all engineering freshmen at our institution. This course is a 1 hour lecture, 4 hour lab, 3 credit course. The lab is designed to have 5 different modules: Biomedical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, and an innovation and design thinking lab. Students from the same lecture are divided into 5 different groups to meet with 5 instructors from different departments. All lab sections are offered concurrently, lab instructors stay in the same assigned lab space and students rotate to different labs. Each lab module is about 2.5 weeks. The main goal for this course is to expose students to different engineering majors in their freshman year.

The objective of this research is to compare different ways to deliver introduction to engineering labs to first year engineering students. Mechanical and Electrical lab modules are used to do this research. The Mechanical module has four individual labs related to different aspects of mechanical engineering: thermodynamics, gear, linkage, strength of materials, while electrical module uses a project based learning approach. The project includes 4 sequential labs: Lab 1 Pulse Width Modulation, Lab 2 Arduino Pulse Width Modulation, Lab 3 Sensors and Conditionals, and Lab 4 Autonomous Vehicle. Once going through the entire module, the project is completed.

A survey was conducted to collect data right after students completed the lab module to evaluate the content of the lab, as well as comparing the two different formats of the lab modules. 114 students (95 male and 19 female students) took the survey. The survey shows 78.1% of the students prefer individual labs, while 21.9% of the students like project based labs. Regarding to gender, there is no big difference between male and female students who favor individual labs, and the percentage is 78.9% and 73.7% respectively. More data will be analyzed to see whether the major will affect the preferences.

Song, J., & Ma, G. G. (2017, June), Different Lab Formats in Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28178

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