June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.431.1 - 15.431.13
Draw Bridge Design: An Interdisciplinary, Project-Based Capstone Course for Freshman Engineering Students
Engineering schools have long dealt with issues in recruitment and retention in engineering programs. Retention past the first year of study in engineering is often less than 50%. Efforts to address low retention often include a redesign of the first year of study, with the intent to of introducing engineering design early in the curriculum. Toward this end, Ohio Northern University has developed a year long Freshman Engineering course sequence including the study of engineering design and analysis, technical communication and effective teaming. The course sequence culminates in a one quarter capstone design course. Various iterations of this course have included projects selected by student teams with few given constraints to a single project selected by the instructor with well-defined constraints. In these cases, the selection of the single project becomes most important. The course includes multiple disciplines of engineering, and failing to include one or more disciplines could dissuade students from remaining in engineering. The design of a drawbridge, integrating Civil Engineering (bridge design), Mechanical Engineering (movement of the drawbridge mechanism) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (control and motor circuitry for the bridge mechanism) was assigned as the project in the capstone design class, and subsequently moved to an earlier prerequisite first-year course. This project involved the use of a specific engineering design process, significant hands-on activity as scale models of the drawbridges were built and demonstrated, and incorporation of truly interdisciplinary teams. Student evaluation results showed that the students found the activity stimulated their interest in engineering and encouraged students in independent thinking. This paper will describe the project in detail, allowing those interested in replicating this project to do so. The details will include the bridge specifications and criteria, and results of testing. In order to assess the success of specifying the criteria, basic bridge designs will be presented. Finally, specific student evaluation data and descriptions of successes and future implementation plans from the instructor’s viewpoint will be presented.
Recruiting engineering students has become a major challenge. Recent news about factories moving overseas and the outsourcing of jobs may easily give high school students the perception that our national industries are decaying, which makes the college of engineering a less attractive destination and a career in engineering very unlikely. While recruiting engineering students is no easy task, retaining them is often no easier. Various engineering schools around the country struggle with a retention rate of less than 50% from freshman to sophomore year1. A report issued by the National Academies2 describes undergraduate programs in science and engineering having some of the lowest retention rates among academic disciplines. Students drop out of engineering for multiple reasons. A significant group of students enter engineering with excellent high school academic credentials. Students may enter college with inflated expectations of their expected academic performance. Many students panic and question whether engineering is right for them if and when they receive their first “C”.
Khorbotly, S., & Reid, K. (2010, June), Draw Bridge Design: An Interdisciplinary, Hands On Project For Freshman Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15935
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