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Freshman Engineering Design In The Design4 Practice Program

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.511.1 - 6.511.9

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Paper Authors

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Spencer Brinkerhoff

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III, Walter Hopkins

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David Hartman

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

Session 2425

Freshman Engineering Design in the Design4Practice Program

David E. Hartman, Walter G. Hopkins, Spencer L. Brinkerhoff Northern Arizona University


The award winning Design4Practice program (1999 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award) incorporates a design experience into each of the four years of the engineering programs at Northern Arizona University. This paper describes the experience that new engineering students receive in the freshman course titled “Introduction to Engineering Design”. This multi-purpose course serves to provide experiences in the engineering design process, working in teams, introduction to the engineering professions, planning for success, development of communication skills, and an introduction to mathematical modeling. The course has been designed to articulate with the other schools in Arizona, and a matrix of the outcomes that all the Arizona universities and community colleges are expected to achieve is included in the paper.

I. Introduction

Many freshman students opting to study engineering are not sure if they really should and, if so, do not know which field of engineering to select as a major. In the typical engineering curriculum, most of the freshman year is spent studying mathematics, chemistry, and physics courses with little or no exposure to engineering. The course, Introduction to Engineering Design, was developed to bring these freshmen into the College of Engineering and Technology, expose them to the various engineering programs available at Northern Arizona University, and to develop their skills as problem solvers and communicators. Other important objectives for the course are to develop teaming skills, to provide exposure to ethical issues, and to initiate the development of skills that will be used in the subsequent three engineering design courses. This course is the initial step in the Design4Practice1 curriculum, first described in 19952, and which won the 1999 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award.3

II. Background

The first engineering design course developed and offered at Northern Arizona University was a capstone course which integrates content from many of the previous engineering courses into a team-oriented, senior-level design experience. After several years of successful capstone courses, the faculty determined that the senior course could be much more effective if students learned to use some of the so-called “soft” skills earlier in their educational experiences. Subsequently a sophomore-level course, Engineering Design: The Process, was developed and offered, followed

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Brinkerhoff, S., & Hopkins, I. W., & Hartman, D. (2001, June), Freshman Engineering Design In The Design4 Practice Program Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015