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Finite Element Analysis Active Learning Modules Embedded Throughout a Curriculum: Implementation and Assessment of Results Based on Student GPA

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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

Statics and Finite Element Analysis

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.775.1 - 26.775.19



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Paper Authors


Kyle A. Watson University of the Pacific

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Kyle Watson earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Villanova University and his M.S. and
Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University. He has been a faculty member at
the University of the Pacific since 2003 and has taught undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, heat
transfer, combustion, air-conditioning, dynamics, and senior capstone design.

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Ashland O. Brown University of the Pacific

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Ashland O. Brown, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of the Pacific
He has served as dean of engineering for ten years at both the University of the Pacific and South Carolina State University and headed engineering groups at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. The engineering groups included a product design section composed of product analysis engineers finite element analysis experts and product development engineers. He has taught engineering courses for over twenty years in thermodynamics, solar engineering, graphics, dynamics, machine design, and finite elements methods at the University of the Pacific. He has over fifty referred technical research publications, and conference papers with twelve in the areas of finite element learning modules with two recently accepted referred engineering journal papers covering the results of this NSF research on finite element active learning modules.

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Jiancheng Liu University of the Pacific

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Dr. Jiancheng Liu is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of the Pacific. Dr. Liu’s research experience and teaching interest have been in the areas of machine design and manufacturing engineering, with specific focuses on CNC machine tool design, mechanical micro machining, cutting process, flexible manufacturing system automation, sensing and control technology, and intelligent CAM technology. With his many years’ experience in industry and universities, Dr. Liu has published over 90 technical journals and conference papers. He was awarded four patents. Many of his research results have been successfully implemented as commercial products or practically applied. Among his many honors is the Industrial LEAD Award from SME.

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Finite Element Analysis Active Learning Modules Embedded Throughout A Curriculum: Implementation and Assessment of Results Based on Student GPAAbstractCommercial finite element packages are widely used in industry thereby making exposure to thistool an essential component of undergraduate engineering education. This paper discusses thedevelopment, implementation, and results of integrating active learning modules (ALM’s)throughout an engineering curriculum with the goal of providing an effective learning resourcethat reinforces fundamental, yet challenging, course concepts without requiring knowledge of therigorous mathematical theory underlying the finite element method. Fifteen ALM’s have beenimplemented into eight courses at six different universities. Assessment has been done throughthe use of identical pre- and post-ALM quizzes and a survey that gathers student informationsuch as GPA, gender and ethnicity. Results indicate that there is a significant increase in studentperformance after completing the ALM’s and there is a more substantial positive impact onstudents with lower GPA’s (< 3.0) than those with higher GPA’s (≥ 3.0). These results providestrong evidence that the ALM’s developed and implemented during this study result in improvedstudent comprehension of challenging topics while exposing all undergraduate engineeringstudents to the finite element method.

Watson, K. A., & Brown, A. O., & Liu, J. (2015, June), Finite Element Analysis Active Learning Modules Embedded Throughout a Curriculum: Implementation and Assessment of Results Based on Student GPA Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24112

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