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Engagement in Practice: Engaging with the Community One Bike at a Time

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineers and Communities: Critical Reflections of Challenges, Opportunities, and Practices of Engaging Each Other

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Robert L. Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Robert Nagel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. Dr. Nagel joined the James Madison University after completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. He has a B.S. from Trine University and a M.S. from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, both in mechanical engineering. Since joining James Madison University, Nagel has helped to develop and teach the six course engineering design sequence which represents the spine of the curriculum for the Department of Engineering. The research and teaching interests of Dr. Nagel tend to revolve around engineering design and engineering design education, and in particular, the design conceptualization phase of the design process. He has performed research with the US Army Chemical Corps, General Motors Research and Development Center, and the US Air Force Academy, and he has received grants from the NSF, the EPA, and General Motors Corporation.

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Jacquelyn Kay Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Jacquelyn K. Nagel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. She has eight years of diversified engineering design experience, both in academia and industry, and has experienced engineering design in a range of contexts, including product design, bio-inspired design, electrical and control system design, manufacturing system design, and design for the factory floor. Dr. Nagel earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and her M.S. and B.S. in manufacturing engineering and electrical engineering, respectively, from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Dr. Nagel’s long-term goal is to drive engineering innovation by applying her multidisciplinary engineering expertise to instrumentation and manufacturing challenges.

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Callie J. Miller James Madison University Orcid 16x16


Jason Forsyth James Madison University

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Jason Forsyth is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at James Madison University. He received his PhD from Virginia Tech in May 2015. His major research interests are in wearable/ubiquitous computing and engineering education.

His wearable computing work develops safety systems that provide continuous monitoring and sensing to protect human life. Previous work examined the role of wearable pulse oximetry in protecting construction workers from carbon monoxide poisoning and developing a warning system for road-side workers and emergency personnel to estimate potential vehicle strikes. His current research interests focus on on-body human activity recognition and interactive machine learning for physical therapy patients and practitioners to increase exercise adherence and clinical evaluation.

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Shraddha Joshi James Madison University

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Shraddha Joshi earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University with her research focused on understanding the role of requirements in engineering design by novices. Dr. Joshi received her MS in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and her BE in mechanical engineering from Nirma University, India. At Clemson, Dr. Joshi has worked on multiple industry sponsored research projects (Michelin tweel –low rolling resistance for non-pneumatic tires, IFAI ballast friction testing project). She was actively involved in mentoring and advising Capstone design projects. She has advised over 10 different design projects –BMW, Rotary, TTi and mentored over 100 students. While at Clemson, Dr. Joshi was also awarded endowed teaching fellowship as a part of which she has taught a sophomore class on Foundations of Mechanical Systems for 2 semesters.

Dr. Joshi worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Professor Jonathan Cagan at Carnegie Mellon University. She investigated the avenues of internet of things and connected products. While at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Joshi was also instructor for classes such as Mechanical Engineering Seminar, Capstone Design and Storytelling with Machines

Dr. Joshi is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University.

Dr. Joshi’s areas of interest include requirements in design, conceptual design, engineering education, design representations, development of design tools and design research methods, internet of things and connected products.

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Kyle G. Gipson James Madison University

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Dr. Kyle Gipson is an Associate Professor at James Madison University (United States) in the Department of Engineering (Madison Engineering). He has taught courses pertaining to topics for first-year engineering, materials science and engineering, engineering design, systems thinking and engineering leadership development. Currently, he holds the following positions: Director of the Madison Engineering Leadership Program and a Co-Director of the Center for STEM Education and Outreach. He has a PhD in Polymer, Fiber Science from Clemson University. His research background is in the synthesis of polymer nanocomposites and engineering education. He was trained as a Manufacturing Process Specialist within the textile industry, which was part of an eleven-year career that spanned textile manufacturing to product development.

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NOTE: This abstract is being submitted for the Engagement in Practice paper for the session, “Engineers and Communities: Critical Reflections of Challenges, Opportunities, and Practices of Engaging Each Other,” proposed by Prof. Juan Lucena.

At (Removed for Double Blind Review), community engagement projects are incorporated at the first year with design, development, and delivery of adapted musical instruments for local school children following the human centered design process and in the second year with design, development, and delivery of human-powered vehicles for individuals with disabilities. Then in the two-year junior/senior capstone, all of our students are encouraged to work with faculty and staff to identify local community members to engage with through the project.  

In particular, this Engagement in Practice paper will focus on the second-year project. This project, building human-powered vehicles for community members, is in its 10th year and is a required, year-long, client-based, design project interwoven with instruction in a two-course design sequence generally taken during students' second year.  The course sequence incorporates experiential, problem-based learning and active learning pedagogies to teach sophomore engineering students engineering design fundamentals.  The course project experience focuses on the design, development, and construction of a human-powered vehicle for an individual with special needs.  Through the course, students not only learn about the engineering design process, but also, they learn about themselves as budding engineers and their future role as an engineer in society.  

Course partners (both internal and external to the university) have helped to make the course a success. For example, through the course, students have open opportunities to meet with their users and their users' parents on their own time as needed due to an arraignment with the (Removed for Double Blind Review) program as users are required to enroll in the program when the accept a place in our program.  Through this partnership, users receive the strength and flexibility training that they will need to ride the human powered vehicle that they will eventually receive.  Students work to create a design that plays to the user’s strengths such that the recipient will be able to ride the bike as independently as possible.  Students frequently refer to this course sequence as the most meaningful experience of their engineering studies at (Removed for Double Blind Review) during exit interviews.  For recipients, the results have been equally powerful from breaking down in tears after riding their first ever 5K to obtaining a learner permit after thinking that they would never be able to operate any sort of vehicle.  We have given a young child an opportunity to participate in recess activities where they previously had to sit out, and we give two families of active cyclists opportunities to go on long trail rides after thinking they could never do this again.  Many clients have come back to campus year-after-year with their bikes for the following year’s handoff.  

Challenges that we have faced include: (1) is formal assessment to really understand the impact for students and for community members, and (2) differences in maturity of students in a required course and how to nurture students students through the required personal growth to be successful.

Nagel, R. L., & Nagel, J. K., & Miller, C. J., & Forsyth, J., & Joshi, S., & Gipson, K. G. (2019, June), Engagement in Practice: Engaging with the Community One Bike at a Time Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32710

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