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Discovery Learning Experiments in a New Machine Design Laboratory

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Innovations

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.439.1 - 23.439.18



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Paper Authors


Mark Nagurka Marquette University

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MARK NAGURKA, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering and Lafferty Professor of Engineering Pedagogy at Marquette University. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T. He taught at Carnegie Mellon University before joining Marquette University. His professional interests are in the design of mechanical and electromechanical systems and in engineering education. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and a former Fulbright Scholar.

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Fernando Rodriguez Anton Marquette University

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Fernando Rodriguez Anton received his B.S degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2011. Currently pursuing his M.S degree in mechanical engineering from Marquette University. His general interests are in dynamics and control of robotic systems, with an emphasis on admittance control of assembly robots.

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Discovery Learning Experiments in a New Machine Design Laboratory A new Machine Design Laboratory has been created to foster student exploration withhardware and real-world systems. The Laboratory incorporates areas for teaching andtraining, and has been designed to foster “hands-on” and “minds-on” learning. It reflects thespirit of transformational learning that is a theme in the College of Engineering. Our goal was to develop discovery learning oriented experiments for a required junior-level “Design of Machine Elements” course in mechanical engineering that would givestudents practical experiences and expose them to physical hardware, actual tools, and real-world design challenges. With the guidance of an Industrial Advisory Board and with thehelp of mechanical engineering undergraduate and graduate students new experiments weredeveloped. The experiments immerse students in an environment where they must identifycomponents, learn nomenclature, measure parameters (dimensions, speed, force), selectcomponents for design challenges, distinguish between normal and used (worn) components,explain proper and abnormal behavior, reverse engineer systems, and justify design choices.The experiments are tightly integrated with the lecture part of the course and serve tomotivate the theory and spark interest in what can be a dry subject. The experiments are (1) Introduction to Machine Systems (how does a chainless bicyclework, what does shifting mean in a motorcycle engine, what are the speeds available in a drillpress), (2) Stress Measurements and Concentrations (flat bars with holes under tension, roundbars with holes, grooves, and fillets under bending, tubes under bending and torsion), (3) Fitsand Tolerances (press-fits of shafts on coupler hubs), (4) Gears (input-output measurementson transmissions, reverse engineering black-boxes, design of gear systems), (5) FlexibleComponents (identification of belts, chains, wire-rope; tension in belts on pulleys; design ofchain-sprocket / belt-pulley systems), (6) Bearings (roller, needle, ball, and sphericalbearings; signatures of normal and used bearings; selection of bearings), (7) Bolts (torquemeasurement, shear strength, clamping force), and (8) Go-Kart Design (including powertraindesign). Traditional laboratory reports have been replaced by two lab deliverables: (i) an end-of-lab deliverable which poses qualitative challenges (e.g., explain behavior) based on learningfrom lab activities and (ii) a deliverable (due one-week later) designed to connect the labactivities with lecture material. The Laboratory is equipped with workbenches, tools, instruments, computers, and anassortment of machines and mechanical systems to enhance creative exploration andinvestigation. The machines and systems include two motorcycle engine assemblies (enginesand transmission), two bicycles (a chainless bicycle and a custom front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-steer bicycle), a go-kart chassis, a Machine Fault Simulator (training station), andvarious other systems (e.g., industrial gearboxes, automotive transmission, drill presses). The paper will present details of the experiments and summarize experiences of students,teaching assistants, and the faculty in the use and effectiveness of the experiments in theMachine Design Laboratory. In addition, the paper will provide insights into how wellstudents became familiar with current engineering practice and gained real-world experiencethrough the experiments.

Nagurka, M., & Rodriguez Anton, F. (2013, June), Discovery Learning Experiments in a New Machine Design Laboratory Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19453

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