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Engagement in Practice: A Second Year Project-Based Learning Sequence

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Melissa Morris Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide

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Melissa is an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Department of Engineering and Technology of the College of Aeronautics. She is specialized in mechatronics and robotics and also has a deep interest in promoting STEAM education rounded with professional skills and ethics. She earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Florida International University, MS in Mechanical Engineering with Bionengineering from Florida Atlantic University, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University. She has industry experience with the Ford Motor Company of Europe and the Sensormatic Corporation. She also has experience at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Florida Polytechnic University, and automotive and robotic companies in the Detroit area.

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The design and two years of implementation of a novel project based learning course sequence for sophomore-level engineering students at ABC University is presented. In addition to technical subjects, goals of the two courses are to include projects in both semesters of the sophomore year, as part of a larger plan of integrating a project into each semester of an undergraduate mechanical engineering student’s experience. Specifically, projects implemented in the sophomore courses were geared toward exposing students to real-life situations and developing real-life solutions. The aim was to increase retention by providing a preview of real-world problems normally reserved for final capstone experience during an engineering science-intensive curricular year. This reminds students, especially women, of why they want to become engineers. One example was working with the local school district to make custom adaptations for specially-abled children. University students were able to visit some of the most challenging classrooms and pick problems to tackle. Students then designed and constructed prototypes to deliver for classroom use. As another example, green wall concepts were designed for local communities and organizations that met specific goals and real-life constraints. Successes and challenges were encountered in the collaborations. Initiation involved making cold calls and reaching out through resources on campus. Not all students could make site visits, so in-class presentations by a school administrator were utilized along with students disseminating through presentations. Deliverables did not always meet expectations, but even the conceptual ideas were well received. Students also gained real-life exposure to societal challenges and the impacts of engineering. The course overall gave students experience in many professional skills. Ideas for continuing and implementing similar projects are shared.

Morris, M. (2020, June), Engagement in Practice: A Second Year Project-Based Learning Sequence Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34531

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