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Implementing Product Dissection in Virtual Classrooms

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Design Methodologies 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Andrea M. Ragonese Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Andrea Ragonese is an assistant teaching professor at Penn State University. She is a Professor of Practice with an MBA from Southern New Hampshire, a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State and a Minor in Engineering Leadership Development from Penn State. Andrea had over 15 years’ experience working in the engineering field before joining the Engineering Leadership Development Program faculty at Penn State. Her professional experiences ranges from glass manufacturing, aerospace assembly and equipment engineering to cement production, shipbuilding and medical device design. Additionally, Professor Ragonese has interests and experience in Intellectual Property from writing, formulating and examining patent applications to assessing the validity of patentable claims from her tenure at the US Patent and Trademark Office as well as her time spent working for a small boutique patent law firm. Professor Ragonese’s current research interests focus on identifying, assessing and developing competences and opportunities for engineers in the realm of product innovation, design and entrepreneurship, particularly how these concepts have an effect on leadership in the corporate world. Additionally, she is a Registered Patent Agent and a Certified Teacher in the State of Florida for 6-12 Mathematics and Physics.

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Elizabeth Marie Starkey Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Elizabeth Starkey is an Assistant Teaching Professor of engineering design in the School of Engineering Design Technology and Professional Programs at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University and her B.S. in Computer Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Elizabethtown College. Her research focuses on creativity during the design process and building tools to facilitate learning and creativity in engineering design education.

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Problem-based learning activities, such as physically reverse engineering competitors’ products or virtually dissecting products, can be integrated into graduate-level engineering curriculum to demonstrate to engineers, scientists and other technical professionals how to systematically disassemble and analyze an assembly, as well as its components. In the early 1990’s, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) first introduced these concepts of reverse engineering and product dissection, thus making them cornerstones of introductory engineering courses. Many studies have been conducted in introductory and undergraduate level engineering courses, finding that virtual product dissection can be used as a proxy for physical dissection in order to have an impact on learning and creativity. While these studies have been systematic in nature, they have only explored product dissection in undergraduate co-located classrooms. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the deployment of product dissection modules in graduate-level engineering classrooms—both in an online (non- co-located) setting and in a residential classroom setup. This concept was introduced to graduate students in an engineering leadership and innovation management program course that focused on product innovation in a corporate setting. This study aimed to understand the usefulness of virtual product dissection in online classrooms through the implementation of an online virtual product dissection module where students completed individual reflections and written discussions. The results from this case study yield recommendations for the use of product dissection in non-co-located classrooms for graduate students and further engineering leadership development education. Additionally, we provide insights into the deployment of this module in an engineering graduate classroom, as well as in a corporate setting for professional development for production innovation. The results from the case study indicate that graduate engineering students gained self-efficacy from pre to post-dissection and that they found the dissection activity to be useful for both understanding how products work and for idea generation. In addition, the students indicated that they were able to draw inspiration from their dissected products when completing the alarm clock design activity. These results indicate that the virtual product dissection module is effective for use in a non-residential/online classroom. These results are in line with prior research that has shown that virtual dissection is an effective residential classroom tool.

Ragonese, A. M., & Starkey, E. M. (2020, June), Implementing Product Dissection in Virtual Classrooms Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34783

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