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Implementation of a Design Project in a Freshman Engineering Physics Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Inci Ruzybayev York College of Pennsylvania

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Inci Ruzybayev is Assistant Professor in Engineering and Computer Science at York College of Pennsylvania

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Benjamin J. Zile


Scott F. Kiefer York College of Pennsylvania

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Scott Kiefer has spent the past eighteen years teaching mechanical engineering at four institutions. As an exemplary teaching specialist in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University, Scott received the Withrow Award for Teaching Excellence, given to one faculty member in the College in Engineering for outstanding instructional performance. Scott specializes in machine design, vibrations, and controls. He started his career at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in the traditional role of teaching and administering a modest research program. At Trine University, a small private school in Angola, Indiana, Scott taught ten different courses from introductory freshman courses to senior design, while serving as advisor to many undergraduate research projects. For the last seven years, Scott has been at York College of Pennsylvania where his concentration is on undergraduate education in mechanical engineering.

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Taylor Schmidt

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Published literature clearly agrees that one of the key factors contributing to good students leaving engineering in their freshman year is that the students get bogged down in technical courses and fail to see the application of engineering in a real-world context. Students often fail to see the relevance of the technical skills they are learning in their basic math and science courses because they are presented with very few opportunities to apply these skills in actual engineering problems. In addition, many schools have included hands-on projects in first year engineering courses that concentrate on developing project management and teamwork skills. While these projects are certainly beneficial to student development, the types of projects assigned are usually solved using trial and error methods and rarely require the application of the concepts the students are learning in their math and science courses. These projects can solidify the idea students hold that math and science background is not required for design work and that the courses are merely intended to “weed out” students. Furthermore, it can cause students to become disillusioned with the engineering curriculum.

This paper suggests that physics classes are a good place to apply the basic skills being covered in the course to real-life situations. Specifically, it explains how to take a large scale design problem actually encountered in a capstone course (the design of a SAE design competition vehicle), break it down into smaller pieces, and examine it within the structure of a physics course in engineering mechanics. The project will be divided into parts to be covered throughout the semester focusing on force, power, and torque analysis. The overall goal of the project will be to develop the specifications necessary for choosing an engine and transmission system for a vehicle. The analysis will include an exploration of minimum torque requirements, torque power curves, gear ratios, and efficiencies.

Ruzybayev, I., & Zile, B. J., & Kiefer, S. F., & Schmidt, T. (2019, June), Implementation of a Design Project in a Freshman Engineering Physics Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32935

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