June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.750.1 - 12.750.12
First-year Experience and Beyond: Using the Engineering Design Process to Support Learning and Engineering Skill Development
First-year engineering programs increasingly introduce a focus on the engineering design process, responding in part to accreditation needs and industry advice. Yet too often these introductions to the design process are one or two semesters only, resulting in students not having time to either complete genuine design projects or not absorbing the process sufficiently to be able to apply throughout their academic years. This paper describes a service-learning project that began in a one- semester introductory course, but that continued over three semesters.
Students from a variety of majors in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) at Western Michigan University, enrolled in a first-year Introduction to Engineering class in Fall 2005, worked in teams to design a working prototype of a demonstration kit for a local high school science teacher. The demonstration kit was intended to safely teach x-ray diffraction of a single crystalline solid (by substituting lasers instead of using harmful x-rays) and to allow the high school teacher to demonstrate the mathematical concepts of 2-, 3-, and 4-fold rotational symmetry. In completing these designs, the students closely followed and applied the engineering design process. In the second semester, a group of three of the original 30 students re-evaluated, re-designed, and fabricated their prototypes from the previous semester.
Through this first-year project, these students were responsible for the entire cycle of engineering design, from concept through implementation – a rare opportunity. This paper explores not only the success of one student design project stemming from applying the engineering design process in a first-year engineering program, but also presents from our experience ways in which student learning and development can be enhanced in the first year and continued and augmented beyond the first- year experience.
Introduction and Project Objectives
In the fall semester of 2005, 30 students enrolled in a three-credit (two hours lecture; two hours laboratory per week) university course for first-year engineering students (ENGR 1010 “Introduction to Engineering and Technology”) were instructed to complete a guided design project, solving a real problem for a real “customer.” Their charge was to create an instructional device to simulate x-ray diffraction of single crystals. Working with a high school physics teacher (their “customer”), teams of first-year engineering students used the engineering design process to create a device that effectively simulated the phenomenon of x-ray diffraction. X-ray diffraction is the scattering of x-rays by atoms of a crystal into a crystalline lattice pattern. The teacher wanted his students to be able to see and understand how Bragg’s Law, a mathematical definition explaining x-ray diffraction, works.
In 1913, Sir W.H. Bragg and his son, W.L. Bragg, derived an equation that validated the fact that real particles exist at the atomic scale. 1, 2 The Bragg’s Law equation can be manipulated to
Pagano, P., & Rossman, A., & Vasilnek, K., & Aller, B., & Tsang, E., & Kline, A., & Brabandt, E. (2007, June), First Year Experience And Beyond: Using The Engineering Design Process To Support Learning And Engineering Skill Development Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2851
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