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Gravity Powered Block Transport: A Freshman Design Project

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Outreach and Freshman Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.610.1 - 8.610.13



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Paper Authors

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Patsy Brackin

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Clark Merkel

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This paper describes a project used for a mechanical engineering, freshmen design course. Its focus is on how this project was used to introduce design methodology through practice with a project-based implementation. Four sections of a freshman design course with approximately 32 students each were divided into 4 person teams and were all given the same design task: design a device which would use a dropping weight to transport a small wooden block while attempting to optimize a number of other design constraints. The design course was structured to introduce and walk the students through the design process, thereby demonstrating systematic examination of the design problem, generation of design ideas, analysis and comparison of different designs, and the process of narrowing down and making the final selection of a design. The design project was capped by having each team construct their final design and compete against each other in a contest to determine which team designed and built the superior project. This paper explains the design problem used and how the design steps were integrated with the project to develop both teaming skills and an understanding of the design process. The paper concludes with subjective feedback on the effectiveness of this design project and its implementation from both student and instructor feedback.

Brackin, P., & Merkel, C. (2003, June), Gravity Powered Block Transport: A Freshman Design Project Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12692

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