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Improving Student Engagement in a Senior-Level Manufacturing Course for Mechanical Engineering Students

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Strategies for Effective Education in Manufacturing

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Joshua Gargac University of Mount Union

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Joshua Gargac is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, OH, where he advises the mechanical engineering senior capstone projects and SAE Baja team. In addition, Dr. Gargac teaches first year engineering courses, computer-aided design, kinematics and dynamics of machinery, and manufacturing science. He received his BSME from Ohio Northern University and a Ph.D in Bioengineering from the University of Notre Dame. Current interests include bone tissue mechanics, engineering pedagogy, and robotic football.

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Manufacturing courses play an important role in the undergraduate curriculum since many mechanical engineering students find employment in manufacturing-related industries. While most engineering courses are calculation- or design-intensive, manufacturing courses tend to be information-driven. Without balancing this information with practical experiences, it can be difficult to effectively motivate student learning. The purpose of this paper is to describe and evaluate the changes made to a traditional manufacturing lecture course to improve student engagement and learning. The new course structure consisted of four components: 1) self-learning outside the classroom, 2) hands-on manufacturing experiences, 3) a lecture incorporating active-learning exercises, and 4) a TED-style final presentation.

1. Self-Learning Component: The course textbook was replaced with an online manufacturing learning resource, THORS Academy (THORS eLearning Solutions, Medina, OH). The THORS Academy consists of online courses designed to provide in-depth manufacturing knowledge to individuals working in or with the manufacturing industry, including business professionals, engineers, skilled laborers, and entry-level employees. Students were assigned THORS courses to complete as homework, and student learning was tracked through quizzes taken before and after completing each assignment.

2. Hands-on Component: An experiential component was created consisting of a hands-on machine shop experience and tours of manufacturing facilities. The machine shop component consisted of four labs: 1) milling, 2) turning, 3) welding, and 4) tapping and threading. Students were then assigned a machining-based design project meant to synthesize the knowledge from the four labs. Tours of local manufacturing facilities were arranged to illustrate how the processes covered in class are implemented in industry.

3. Lecture Component: Normal course meetings were updated to include high-impact learning practices, including the integration of videos describing manufacturing processes. Periodically, the students engaged in “How’s it Made?” activities, during which groups competed to identify the manufacturing processes used to fabricate everyday objects. Guest speakers were also invited to provide real-world applications of the course material.

4. Final Presentation Component: The final exam was replaced with TED-style presentations. This gave students the opportunity to research manufacturing topics of personal interest that were not addressed by the course content. Students presented to faculty and peers at a mini-TED conference during the final exam period.

Gargac, J. (2018, June), Improving Student Engagement in a Senior-Level Manufacturing Course for Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30635

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