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Dynamic Systems Teaching Enhancement Using A Laboratory Based Hands On Project

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

TIME 4: Pedagogy

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.486.1 - 9.486.16



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Paper Authors

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Peter Avitabile

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Charles Goodman

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Jeffrey Hodgkins

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

Session 2566


Dr. Peter Avitabile, Assistant Professor Charles Goodman, Jeff Hodgkins and Kari White, Graduate Students Tracy Van Zandt, Gary StHilaire, Tiffini Johnson, Nels Wirkkala, Undergrad Students Mechanical Engineering Department University of Massachusetts Lowell One University Avenue Lowell, Massachusetts USA


An undergraduate course in dynamic systems involves basic material in previous undergraduate courses that are critical building blocks for course execution. Differential Equations, Mathematical Methods for Engineers, Dynamics, etc. are all basic underlying material that is critical to the material covered in an undergraduate course. Material taught in those prerequisite courses is often considered irrelevant to the student since there is no practical application to firmly instill these basic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) concepts. A traditional Dynamic Systems course, with traditional class lecture/homework/test scenario is destined to the same fate as these earlier courses, if taught in the same manner.

A new variation of this Dynamic Systems course has been implemented, which has individual projects which address various analytical approaches using closed-form analytical solutions with MATLAB and SIMULINK computer software to completely address 1st and 2nd order systems. In addition, a laboratory based component is added to collect measured data for these systems to be used to further develop the analytical representation of these systems. Students work in groups and collect data to develop these models and prepare detailed reports summarizing their efforts. Each project is anonymously peer reviewed by another team to provide a detailed evaluation of the report and data evaluation. As a result of this peer review, the students further appreciate the need to analyze and report findings in an accurate manner.

The project is described along with laboratory experiments performed. Student comments regarding the project are presented. Assessments at the end of the first deployment of the project clearly indicate that the students enjoyed the hands-on based project and clearly felt that they understood the material in much greater depth as a result of the project.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering"

Avitabile, P., & Goodman, C., & Hodgkins, J. (2004, June), Dynamic Systems Teaching Enhancement Using A Laboratory Based Hands On Project Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13872

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