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Educating Designers On Design Via Distance Learning

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Using IT to Enhance Design Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.501.1 - 10.501.9



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Paper Authors

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Harold Evensen

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Paula Zenner

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Edward Lumsdaine

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

Session 1625

Educating Designers on Design via Distance Learning

Edward Lumsdaine, Harold A. Evensen, Paula F. Zenner Michigan Technological University Monika Lumsdaine, Consultant


This paper describes the experiences of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech University in teaching conceptual capstone design to corporate designers, and it presents the challenges of adapting the traditional course delivery to students learning at a distance. This design course includes the integration of creativity with design; it simultaneously addresses a traditional on-campus population in a two-semester sequence and a group of corporate employees (100 to 200 students) at a remote location in a one-semester accelerated version. Differences are explored, ranging from cultural and logistical to the motivation of on-campus students versus off-campus designers in learning new methodologies. The challenges, logistics and organization, successes, failures, changes, and recommendations are discussed, based on experiences during Spring 2004 and Spring 2005.

Background and Challenges

The Designing Engineer Certificate (DEC) program was created by Michigan Tech in 2000 to meet the needs of a corporate distance learning client—its goal was to significantly enhance the skill and knowledge base of designers and engineers having diverse educational and experiential backgrounds. The program emphasizes the use of modern solid modeling tools to build a virtual model of a system, together with finite element programs for the evaluation of stress and deflection in the virtual model. The DEC core courses build on the fundamentals and encompass many of the mechanical design concepts included in the distance-learning Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree program offered to people working in industry.1 The capstone design project is the culmination in both the certificate course sequence and the on-campus course sequence. An important requirement by the client was that the distance-learning capstone design course must incorporate the same principles as the capstone course taught to on-campus students. This constraint represented a major challenge, not only because the distance-learning students had different educational backgrounds and experience levels, but because the content had to be delivered in one semester (e.g., Spring 2004), whereas the on-campus students had two semesters (e.g., Spring 2004 and Fall 2004) to complete their projects. Other challenging differences included project selection, team formation, team project monitoring and final course assessment. The instructional team also faced the challenges of integrating their teaching approaches and streamlining the topics and reading materials required of all students, while placing an increased emphasis on creative thinking and the development of new design concepts.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Evensen, H., & Zenner, P., & Lumsdaine, E. (2005, June), Educating Designers On Design Via Distance Learning Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15160

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