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Handicapped Design Projects In A New Engineering Honors Course

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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

8.618.1 - 8.618.7



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Paper Authors

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Mark Smith

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Wayne Walter

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

Session Number 2566

Handicapped Design Projects in a New Engineering Honors Course

Wayne Walter, Mark Smith Kate Gleason College of Engineering Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 14623

Abstract As part of a new Honors Program within the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a multidisciplinary design project has been recently introduced as a two-course sequence (1 credit each quarter), taken by honors students during the winter and spring of their Freshman year. Instead of utilizing the design project as a capstone experience, the Honors Design Course at RIT is focused on freshman, to foster passion for product development as early as possible in the undergraduate learning experience. During this inaugural year, students have targeted the handicapped population, consistent with service- learning objectives for the Honors Program as well as the students’ collective desire to use their engineering skills to improve quality of life. This paper will provide the framework and details surrounding the Honors Design Course in the context of the overall Honors Program at RIT.

1. Introduction Product design courses have become an integral part of the undergraduate engineering experience. Last year’s ASEE Conference, for example, contained numerous papers on new programs and important findings from existing programs [1-9]. Traditionally, these design courses have taken the form of a capstone project or formal course for students in the final year or two of a baccalaureate program, but many schools have instituted courses and fully integrated product development programs beginning with first year students [6,7,10]. ABET has also recognized the importance of a team-based design experience for necessary skill development in undergraduate engineering students [11].

Many authors have suggested and documented a number of benefits associated with collaborative design projects [2,3,5-8,10,14-16]: innovative problem solving, improved handling of complexity and ambiguity, enhanced communication skills and self-confidence, improvements in team building and interpersonal interactions, etc. Beyond traditional benefits associated with almost any type of realistic design problem, Green, et. al. [1], have described incremental benefits to “service-oriented” projects, such as intense student enthusiasm, realizable scope, and broadening horizons into philanthropic concerns. From an accreditation perspective, ABET recognizes the importance of service learning as a contributor to the societal responsibilities of engineers [12].

At RIT, first and second year Honors students elected to tackle the challenge of designing assistive devices for handicapped individuals at a local children’s center and visiting nurse agency. Other authors have described similar projects [9,18] and incremental benefits to students, such as empathy for people with disabilities and significant personal satisfaction. Over

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Smith, M., & Walter, W. (2003, June), Handicapped Design Projects In A New Engineering Honors Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12278

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: © 2003 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