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Guided Cae Software Learning Modules For The Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Software and e-learning in the ME curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.675.1 - 11.675.12



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Paper Authors


Frank Fisher Stevens Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Frank Fisher has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ since August 2004. Dr. Fisher earned BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Learning Sciences (School of Education and Social Policy), and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, all from Northwestern University. Prior to his current appointment he spent for two years as a post-doctoral research associate for the Biologically Inspired Materials (BIMat) Center at Northwestern University.

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Constantin Chassapis Stevens Institute of Technology

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Dr. Costas Chassapis is Department Director and Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He received BE, ME, and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The City University of New York.

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

Guided CAE Software Learning Modules for the Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Curriculum


Under development are a series of guided learning modules illustrating the use of CAE tools and their relationship to the engineering fundamentals covered within the core undergraduate curriculum. Learning supports embedded within these modules will explicitly reinforce basic engineering fundamentals and highlight how these principles relate to the types of engineering problems that are encountered in practice. Ultimately envisioned is a library of such modules which would enable the seamless incorporation of CAE tools throughout the undergraduate curriculum. These modules leverage two important characteristics of these CAE tools: 1) the visualization capabilities of the CAE software, and 2) the ability to solve more complex problems than those typically covered within a traditional lecture-based format. Such tools will provide additional curricular tools which professors may use to adapt more inductive and active teaching methods within their classes.


While advances in computer technology, and in particular Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), have drastically changed the practice of professional engineering, adaptation of such technologies within the undergraduate educational system has typically been less disruptive. The anticipation of a fuller implementation of such technologies into undergraduate engineering education provides the opportunity to critically re-assess the content of the undergraduate curriculum, the manner in which this material is taught, and the potential for these technologies to enhance the undergraduate experience for our students.

A common dilemma when considering the undergraduate curriculum is the proper balance between “teaching fundamental theory” versus “teaching applied software”. While the establishment of a sound base of engineering fundamentals within our students is perhaps the primary goal of the undergraduate curriculum, increasingly there is a legitimate incentive to expose students to the proper use of different engineering software tools in preparation for their professional careers. While efforts to include such computational techniques have included the development of an elective upper-level undergraduate course1, the practical difficulty of implementing these changes within and throughout the curriculum, and in particular the difficulty of integrating software into an already crowded syllabus, has been noted.2 In addition, Petroski eloquently points out the danger of introducing students to the use of CAE tools without proper training, noting that “the computer is both blessing and curse for it makes possible calculations once beyond the reach of human endurance while at the same time also making them virtually beyond the hope of human verification”.3

The current manner in which our department addresses the “theory versus software” debate is to incorporate CAE tools within a required junior-level Modeling and Simulation class, where students are introduced to various commercially-available CAE software packages and their use as a problem-solving tool in engineering. While this class has been successful in introducing our

Fisher, F., & Chassapis, C. (2006, June), Guided Cae Software Learning Modules For The Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--941

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