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Hands On Projects For A Freshman Course In Computer Applications In Engineering

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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

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.624.1 - 8.624.8



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Keyser

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Kourosh Rahnamai

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Ronald E. Musiak

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

Session 1520

Hands-On Projects for a Freshman Course in Computer Applications in Engineering

Kourosh Rahnamai, Ronald E. Musiak and Thomas Keyser

Western New England College Springfield, MA 01119


All first-year engineering students at Western New England College are required to take a two-credit hour course that deals with computer-aided engineering. This course has two components: computer-aided problem solving and engineering practice. To satisfy the engineering practice portion of the course, all students are expected to present and demonstrate a successful solution to an engineering design problem. The other portion of the course concentrates on developing students' problem-solving skills using engineering computational tools such as MATLAB and MathCAD. In this paper we concentrate on presenting hands-on computer experiments. These are designed to motivate students, enhance problem-solving skills, and introduce students to the latest technology in data acquisition tools as well as data manipulation and processing using MATLAB.


Two thirds of the semester is used for teaching the use of MathCAD and MATLAB in solving engineering problems and one third of the semester is used for hands-on experiments. Considering that these are first-year students who have limited or no background in using statistics, some basic statistical concepts such as mean, standard deviation, and uniform and normal distributions are introduced while teaching the use of MATLAB and MathCAD. Two experiments are conducted which require generating a histogram from experimental data and interpreting the histogram to determine the statistical distribution of the data. For the first experiment students throw a die 200 times, record the data and generate the histogram, which should have a uniform distribution. For the second experiment, students build a paper helicopter, release it fifty times from a fixed height, and record the flight time. This is a classical time-of-arrival problem that produces a normal distribution.

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

Keyser, T., & Rahnamai, K., & Musiak, R. E. (2003, June), Hands On Projects For A Freshman Course In Computer Applications In Engineering Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12403

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