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Hands On Teaching Of Engineering Fundamentals

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.308.1 - 3.308.13

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Paper Authors

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Fred Weber

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Daniel C. Yoder

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Christopher D. Pionke

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J. Roger Parsons

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

Session 1326

Hands-On Teaching of Engineering Fundamentals

Daniel C. Yoder, J. Roger Parsons, Chris D. Pionke, and Fred Weber

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Engineering Science Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Engineering Science Chemical Engineering Department

The University of Tennessee


Driven by ABET2000 requirements, input from an industry-based Board of Advisors, and feedback from students and alumni, The University of Tennessee College of Engineering is well underway in a major renovation / reconstruction of its Freshman Engineering program. This effort is an integrated approach to the Freshman curriculum, with a 6-semester hour first- semester course emphasizing problem-solving, teamwork, design concepts, and computer tools (engineering graphics and computer programming), all based around the study of low-level introductory physics material. The second thrust is a second-semester 6-hour course integrating statics and dynamics, while assuming and using mastery of the material from the first semester.

Following the lead of educational theorists, the effort is trying to include as many different forms of learning opportunities as possible. The learning cycle begins with a classroom lecture to introduce the concept, a hands-on laboratory “physical homework” experience to encourage student ownership of the concept, a recitation-style working session to provide practice with the tools available in using the concept, homework assignments to provide practice, and a team design project requiring mastery and application of several of the concepts. This report concentrates on the importance of and techniques used in the hands-on laboratory setting.

The hands-on laboratory physical homework is designed to help students personalize and “feel” the concept. To this end, it uses very simple experiments and includes analyses of experimental results. These experiments are devised using the following general guidelines: 1) the scale of the experiment should be within the normal range of the student’s experience; 2) students should (literally) feel the physical process they are trying to measure; 3) differences between situations should be very noticeable and easily measured; 4) data collection tools should be crude and easy to use; 5) data uncertainty and its implications are emphasized throughout.

This report describes the reasoning behind and structure of the lab experiences, and provides examples of specific experiments based on these principles.

Weber, F., & Yoder, D. C., & Pionke, C. D., & Parsons, J. R. (1998, June), Hands On Teaching Of Engineering Fundamentals Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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