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Implementation of a Low-Budget, First-Year Engineering Project-Based Experience: The Design of a Mini-Golf Hole

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.704.1 - 24.704.12



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Paper Authors


Kerry Meyers Youngstown State University

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Dr. Meyers background is in Engineering Education with experience in assessment, specifically of programs that might influence an incoming student’s experience, affect retention rates and the factors that determine the overall long term success of students entering an engineering program. She is the Director of the STEM College’s First-Year Engineering Program, the entry point for all beginning engineering students designed to provide a smooth transition from high school to University. Having been in charge of this program at the University of Notre Dame for 7 years and now at YSU has made her deeply familiar with the requirements for a thorough undergraduate curriculum that successfully transfers an in-depth understanding of the core principles of math, science and engineering to the incoming students through innovative coursework, mentoring and team work, and the value of hands-on teaching and one to one interaction of faculty and students.

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Implementation of a Low‐Budget, First‐Year Engineering Project Based Experience:    The Design of a Mini‐Golf Hole   A First‐Year Engineering Design Project ‐Based Experience was implemented at a medium‐sized, Midwestern, urban, public institution in the fall of 2012 and 2013.  Beginning in the fall of 2012, a common First‐Year Engineering Program was introduced which included a two‐semester course sequence (each course is 2 credits) which teaches students fundamental engineering concepts:  EXCEL, MATLAB, technical communication, and statistics in the context of hands‐on design projects.  In the program’s first year, a pilot project in which student teams of 3‐5 students designed a mini‐golf hole using shared materials which included piece of Astroturf which is 6 ft. x 25 ft. long and bricks to define a golf hole.   In its second year, fall of 2013, the project was improved from an administration perspective and also modified to engage students in customer requirements.  Specifically, student teams met with the owner and golf professional at a local miniature golf establishment, played and evaluated the 18 hole mini‐golf course, and developed an original design concept with their team (utilizing SolidWorks for visualization and EXCEL for analysis).  Finally, the customer (owner and golf‐pro) came to campus to evaluate the team projects, and selected the best projects to be built permanently in the indoor mini‐golf course they are in the process of developing.   The initial year of this project implementation was a pilot, so no formal assessment was conducted but improvements were made based on feedback from students (through course evaluations) and informal discussions.  During the second offering, there was a formal assessment process which was both quantitative and qualitative in nature.  The quantitative assessment was in the form of surveys that each student completed in class, on‐line using BlackBoard.  Surveys were administered at 3 points during the semester:  (1) prior to starting the project, (2) after playing the mini‐golf course and meeting with the customer, and (3) upon conclusion of the project / semester.  Additionally, a focus group interview with 8 students, from varying class sections and project teams, was conducted to offer depth to the survey responses with only minimal prompting and direction to allow students to express their thoughts and reactions without assumptions of their experience.  Finally, the teaching assistants who were involved in the course during the second administration were students during the pilot project and were solicited for feedback, again both quantitative surveys and focus group interviews. The outcomes of this study were to evaluate the influence of this open‐ended, team‐based, project experience.  Specifically, the assessment was targeted towards understanding how this may or may not have influenced students in terms of their:  (1) Decision about their future engineering major  (2) Commitment to engineering  (3) Interest in engineering  (4) Sense of belonging with their peers   (5) Perception of achieving course learning objectives:  Excel, statistics, SolidWorks, teaming,  visualization and technical communication Finally, information about how to administer this low‐cost project at other institutions is discussed, including project design constraints, timeline, and budgetary outline. 

Meyers, K. (2014, June), Implementation of a Low-Budget, First-Year Engineering Project-Based Experience: The Design of a Mini-Golf Hole Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20596

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