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Implementation of a Case Study in an Engineering Science Course: A Pilot Project for Increasing Experiential Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Design Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.902.1 - 26.902.15



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Paper Authors


Lyndia Stacey University of Waterloo

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Lyndia Stacey is a Case Study Specialist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. She received her Bachelors in Environmental Engineering from the University of Guelph and has experience in engineering education and outreach. More specifically, her work examines the use of case studies as a pedagogical tool to enhance student learning and engagement.

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Andrew Trivett University of Waterloo


Jen Rathlin University of Waterloo

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Jen Rathlin, EIT, is the Clinic Engineer for the University of Waterloo Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Clinic. In this role, she develops, coordinates, and facilitates activities and initiatives to inspire better student learning through authentic experiences and integration of topics, courses, and programs. Prior to joining the MME Clinic, she has worked in areas including energy market modelling, quantum computing, and medical physics. She holds degrees from Queen's University (BASc Engineering Physics) and University of Waterloo (MSc Physics).

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Kyu Won Choi University of Waterloo

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Undergraduate mechanical engineering student at the University of Waterloo.

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Integrating Concepts Across Courses Using the Case Study Method in Engineering DesignIt is valuable for instructors to increase cross-course connections so that engineering students canappreciate and practice integration and application of knowledge. One useful mechanism tocapture realistic complexity is the case study. A case study was developed for a second yearmechanical engineering solid mechanics course which involved the redesign of the chassis ofmodel fuel cell cars. These were used for educational purposes in first year engineeringprograms. Five hands-on activities were developed around this case study to give students anopportunity for practical problem solving. The goal for using the open-ended case study was toconnect engineering science analysis to a realistic engineering design. The activities were sharedbetween three concurrent courses; solid mechanics, calculus and electromechanics. The samestudents were enrolled in all three courses. Aspects of redesigning the model fuel cell car chassiswere applicable to each of these courses and this teaching strategy attempted to demonstrate tothe students that the courses they took and the skills they learned were not independent of eachother.To begin implementation, the students individually read over the case study and then completedall hands-on activities in their solid mechanics course throughout the semester. Studentscollected data which was used for specific assignments across all three courses. The mainchallenges were the coordination of data transfer and the timing of relevant course topics as wellas developing activities that promoted cross-course connections and true integration. Thedifficulties associated with an over-load of course material, multi-instructor coordination andcurriculum requirements are also discussed.To assess student response and depth of learning from the case study and cross-course activities,a survey was conducted near the end of the semester. This survey gathered feedback on the casestudy method, the hands-on activities, cross-course connections and suggestions forimprovement. All participating instructors were also interviewed for their comments on theimplementation, teaching strategy and learning outcomes.

Stacey, L., & Trivett, A., & Rathlin, J., & Choi, K. W. (2015, June), Implementation of a Case Study in an Engineering Science Course: A Pilot Project for Increasing Experiential Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24239

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