June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.869.1 - 12.869.11
INCORPORATING A RESEARCH PROBLEM IN A NUMERICAL METHODS COURSE FOR MECHANICAL ENGINEERS Abstract
This paper presents an example of incorporating a research problem in a course - Numerical Methods for Mechanical Engineers. In bascule bridges, the fulcrum is assembled by shrink-fitting a trunnion into a hub. In one case, the trunnion cooled in a dry-ice/alcohol mixture for shrink fitting got stuck halfway in the hub. Answering the question why the trunnion got stuck in the hub and finding a solution to the problem, involved numerical solution of mathematical procedures including nonlinear equations, simultaneous linear equations, interpolation, regression, integration, and ordinary differential equations. Students and faculty highly appreciate using this problem-centered approach to teaching the course.
National scientific agencies such as the National Science Foundation1 are continually encouraging integration of current research topics into undergraduate education. As our nation’s engineers increasingly face global competition2, bringing the state-of-art research into the classroom is becoming increasingly important. Education and research are of equal value and should be viewed as complementary parts of any STEM education system3.
Incorporating a research problem into a graduate level course4 presents challenges, and to incorporate a problem into an undergraduate level is even more challenging. These challenges include 1. the research problem may not address most of the topics of the course to justify the use of class time, 2. specific skills may be needed that are too time consuming to teach, 3. the problem may be out of scope for the education level of the students. In the Numerical Methods course, we were either able to meet or not have to face these challenges. In the next sections, the description, implementation, and assessment of the problem are discussed.
Description of Problem Amongst movable bridges, bascule bridges are the most popular type as they are simple and speedy to operate. The pivot assembly (called the trunnion-hub-girder (THG) assembly) of a bascule bridge consists of a trunnion shaft attached to the leaf (girder) via a hub, and supported on bearings to permit rotation of the leaf (Figure 1).
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015