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Engineering Design In Five Weeks – Designing A Wind Chime

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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

First-Year Design Experiences

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.540.1 - 10.540.11



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Paper Authors

author page

S. Scott Moor

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

Session xxxx

Engineering Design in Five Weeks – Designing a Wind Chime S. Scott Moor Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract Providing first-year students with a realistic engineering design experience is both difficult and desirable. The benefits of hands-on projects to student learning and to student interest are well documented. However, it is a challenge to pose simple design problems that include both engineering analysis and engineering synthesis. The construction of a wind chime provides an excellent and yet quick engineering design problem for first-year students. This project can be completed with inexpensive and readily available tools and materials. It provides opportunities for the students to use good engineering analysis in their designs and opportunities for students to exercise creativity.

Wind chimes have been proposed and used as a project or laboratory in a number of physics and mathematics courses. In this paper I review the approach and results of using a wind chime design in a first-year “Introduction to Engineering Design” course. In a portion of this course students are asked to design, construct and test a wind chime. They are provided with an equation to predict the frequency of their chimes that is based on a solution to the fourth-order wave equation. Students select their desired chime notes and use the equation to design their chimes. Using this equation requires simple calculation, care with units and the use of physical property data. They can vary the material, shape and size of their chimes.

Students use a computer to record the tones generated by their chimes and then analyze the frequencies that they produce in MATLAB. They are provided with a MATLAB function that produces a Fourier power spectrum of their recorded sound. In lecture, students are given background in musical notes, the vibration of rods and tubes, and a conceptual introduction to Fourier transform analysis.

In addition to the prediction of frequency students consider the quality of the tone produced. In particular, how their chime is suspended affects the quality of the resulting ring. At this point they are introduced to the concept and importance of a node for a standing wave device. They are told that the predicted location of the first node is 22.4% from one end of the tube.

This simple project includes subject matter from material science and engineering, acoustics, signal processing, experimentation, and computer programming. In addition issues of project planning and project reporting are addressed. While maintaining an open-ended project with plenty of room for creativity, this project is a simple engineering design project that goes beyond conceptual, and trial and error approaches.

Background It is a common feature of many first-year engineering courses to include an open-ended project. These projects are desirable for many reasons. They are more realistic to engineering practice Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Moor, S. S. (2005, June), Engineering Design In Five Weeks – Designing A Wind Chime Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14379

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