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Implementing Research Steps in Undergraduate Research

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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

Multidisciplinary Engineering Design II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Chris A. O'Riordan-Adjah Principia College

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Chris A. O’Riordan-Adjah is a professional engineer with over fifteen years of experience in the structural engineering field as a bridge engineer and is currently a Director and Associate Professor with the Engineering Department at Principia College. Chris has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Principia College, Illinois, Master’s degree in Quality Engineering and a Doctorate in Civil Engineering from the University of Central Florida respectively.

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This paper describes an eight-week undergraduate research project conducted at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois during the summer of 2018. The undertaking was distinctive in that it was an engineering research project conducted at a liberal-arts college by undergraduate students enrolled in the college’s engineering program. A multidisciplinary research team was assembled, comprised of undergraduate engineering students serving as research assistants; a faculty instructor serving as project director and advisor to the students; and a Principia alumnus serving as an image processing and artificial intelligence (AI) consultant and advisor. The following engineering disciplines were represented by the team: civil, architectural, industrial, chemical and mechanical. The team performed a structural analysis of an historically significant building on campus, the Maybeck Chapel, designed by renowned architect Bernard R. Maybeck. Data collection involved using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, to capture aerial photographs of the structure for detailed analysis. The selected methodology for conducting the project was a typical Engineering Design Process used primarily as a teaching tool to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of adhering to a standard, structured method for identifying the project objectives; collecting data; organizing and analyzing the accumulated information; and presenting the findings in both oral and written form. The project was instrumental in teaching the value and importance of the following: (1) close interaction and personal relationships between students and instructor; (2) collaborative efforts and teamwork among the students themselves; (3) organization and discipline; (4) time management and communication skills; (5) openness to research ideas and concepts; and (6) appreciation of the school’s diverse curriculum. Finally, the overall goal was to encourage and teach the students how to think, plan, analyze, create, revise or improve what they create, and above all ask questions.

O'Riordan-Adjah, C. A. (2019, June), Implementing Research Steps in Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32945

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