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ENGR497 – An Introduction to Research Methods Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: Pedagogy of Lab-Oriented Courses

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.651.1 - 26.651.17



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Natacha Depaola Illinois Institute of Technology

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Roberto Cammino Illinois Institute of Technology

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Bonnie Haferkamp Illinois Institute of Technology


Paul R. Anderson Illinois Institute of Technology

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Paul Anderson is a registered professional engineer with over 30 years of combined industrial and academic experience related to water resources. At the Illinois Institute of Technology for more than 20 years, he teaches courses in water chemistry, ground water contamination, chemical transport in the environment, and industrial ecology. His recent research interests emphasize wastewater reuse and watershed management. Paul is the director of the Environmental Engineering program and a co-director of the Armour College of Engineering Distinctive Education working group.

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Eric M Brey Illinois Institute of Technology

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Jamshid Mohammadi Illinois Institute of Technology

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Fouad Teymour Illinois Institute of Technology

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ENGR497 – An Introduction to Research Methods Course    The benefits to students who are fortunate enough to engage in undergraduate engineeringresearch are significant. Not only can students apply and extend knowledge they have learned inthe classroom, they have an opportunity to engage in creative, abstract and critical thinking thatleads to concrete, hands-on engineering applications. However, in many engineering disciplines,the demand for undergraduate research exceeds the available resources. Additionally, moststudents enter research labs without the tools and background to hit the ground running.In this paper, we highlight some of the key elements involved in the development of a courseaimed at teaching research methods to junior and senior level engineering students at ouruniversity. The need for a course introducing research methods to students appears to be animportant step in the development of student skills in research before graduation and preparesthem for performing mentored undergraduate research.The curriculum is based on the typical steps involved in a research project. We start by teachingstudents how to perform literature review, how to properly collect data and analyze data, how toapply Design of Experiments, all the way to learning basic sensor usage combined withelectronic data collection and filtering, to finally writing a paper and a research poster. Thestudent participates in our engineering undergraduate research exhibition at our university. Wefound out that, in order to ensure good outcomes from the students, it was not only necessary toteach the students the various research techniques and methods, but to actually have the studentconduct research during the course.This key step was accomplished by having each student or student group come up with aresearch topic that interests them and allow them to carry out individual research with end ofgoal of proving a hypothesis of their choice. Students selected their choices based on theirinterests combined with literature and patent searches. In this manner, each technique that istaught during the classroom time is then directly applied during a lab portion of their class. Thelab portion was conducted in a newly developed space for undergraduate research in theengineering college at our university. This is a space that can be used by engineering students atall times, to carry out their own research needs, and suited this course very well.One can say that students taking this course truly come out more well versed in the area ofresearch with potentially having already published or presented some of their findings, even ifjust in a university setting. We believe this course challenged and expanded the broad criticalthinking capabilities of the students in ways not possible in a typical classroom, and will set thestage for a more successful graduate student or R&D industry career. All aspects related tocreating and testing out this course with its pros and cons are reviewed in this paper.

Depaola, N., & Cammino, R., & Haferkamp, B., & Anderson, P. R., & Brey, E. M., & Mohammadi, J., & Teymour, F. (2015, June), ENGR497 – An Introduction to Research Methods Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23989

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