June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Despite a widespread acknowledgement of the importance of systems thinking and systems engineering, most undergraduate programs in mechanical engineering do not formally instruct students in those subjects. While producing graduates ready to fill the role of a systems engineer is not realistic, it is feasible to train mechanical engineering graduates that can successfully participate in the development of a complex product or system.
Prior work aimed at developing and implementing materials appropriate for teaching selected systems thinking topics to sophomore-level mechanical engineering students showed that teaching systems thinking skills in the context of a single course is difficult. Thus, gradually developing those skills throughout the entire curriculum is a more desirable strategy. By selecting level-appropriate topics and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), the pedagogy for teaching systems thinking skills is much like the one used for other fundamental subjects in mechanical engineering: starting at a lower level, building upon concepts each semester, and finally applying all the knowledge gained in the context of a senior capstone design experience.
The work presented in this paper focuses on selecting systems thinking topics and their appropriate cognitive level for an existing freshman-level introduction to mechanical engineering course. In addition, it discusses the proposed approach to add the selected topics to the course, which has two main components: 1) to provide a high level overview of the product development process that can serve as a framework for introducing systems thinking concepts, and 2) to illustrate systems thinking concepts using examples that are of interest to students and are a good fit for other topics that have to be covered in the course. Finally, results from a systems thinking skills survey implemented as pre- and post-tests in the unmodified course are presented to highlight the potential impact of the proposed intervention.
Muci-Kuchler, K. H., & Degen, C. M., & Bedillion, M. D., & Lovett, M. (2019, June), Extending Systems Thinking Skills to an Introductory Mechanical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32826
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