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Engineering Design Case Implementation: Observations, Results, And Perspectives

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Potpourri

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.546.1 - 14.546.12



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Paper Authors


Oscar Nespoli University of Waterloo

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Oscar Nespoli is a Lecturer in Engineering Design in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He has over 20 years experience in engineering design, product development, and engineering and program management. He teaches engineering design and develops design case studies with the Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering group.

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William Owen University of Waterloo

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William Owen is with the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He teaches Control System Theory and Engineering Design. His research program is in the area of robotic manipulators.

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Colin Campbell University of Waterloo


Steve Lambert University of Waterloo

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Steve Lambert has been a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo for over 20 years. He is the NSERC – General Motors of Canada Chair in Collaborative Design, and is responsible for the development and operation of the Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering program, which aims to develop and implement design cases throughout the engineering curriculum.

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

Engineering Case Study Implementation: Observations, Results and Perspectives


Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering (WCDE) at the University of Waterloo (UW) is a new program to enhance design education through the development and implementation of design cases from student co-op work term and capstone project reports.

This paper summarizes the results of an implementation of the same engineering design case given to three separate engineering classes during the same academic term. The engineering design case was written from a student capstone design project report, and was developed to highlight the engineering design process. The case was developed as a so called interrupted case, where the case was delivered in modules, reflecting steps in the design process. A teaching note was provided to each instructor and served as a recommended guideline for implementation.


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and General Motors of Canada Limited (GMCL) support a program to enhance engineering design education at the University of Waterloo. Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering (WCDE) has been established to develop, implement and promote the use of engineering design cases across the Faculty of Engineering curriculum.

The unique feature of the WCDE program is that cases are developed from students’ own work term reports. The University of Waterloo is a co-operative engineering school where students are required to gain practical experience between each academic term. Over 4000 work term reports are generated and submitted for academic credit each year. In addition, students are required to complete a final year engineering design project, to earn an accredited engineering degree. Both represent sustainable sources of engineering design experience for the development of design cases that can be developed and published for future educational use at UW or at other educational institutions.1

Cases have been used extensively and successfully in business, law, medicine and engineering to capture real situations and experiences and to deliver this knowledge into a classroom setting2. Proper implementation of cases in the form of the case method has been known to foster active learning through group and classroom discussion. Intercommunication between students and between instructor and student promotes enhanced problem finding and solving abilities, and can increase course effectiveness beyond that obtained by more traditional methods3. Cases also force students to use all four of Kolb’s learning styles, including concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation, whereas traditional methods only emphasize the last two styles4.

Assessing the effectiveness of the case method in our own curriculum, with our own students and faculty would provide important information and insight we could use to continuously improve

Nespoli, O., & Owen, W., & Campbell, C., & Lambert, S. (2009, June), Engineering Design Case Implementation: Observations, Results, And Perspectives Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4952

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