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Incorporating Musical Instrument Design Into A Freshmen Engineering Course

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Potpourri Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.689.1 - 8.689.7



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Paper Authors

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Howard Medoff

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Stephen Stace

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Janice Margle

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3425

Incorporating Musical Instrument Design

Into A Freshmen Engineering Course

Howard Medoff, Janice M. Margle, and Stephen Stace

Engineering/Engineering/Music & Integrative Arts Penn State Abington College Abington, Pennsylvania 19001


Technical interests and achievements of freshmen engineering students need to be encouraged. Developing strategies to increase the participation and enjoyment of these students in understanding and experiencing the design process is the basis for this project. It involves designing, building, and testing a simple stringed instrument. All work is done in teams.

A combination demo/hands-on exercise is being developed for inclusion as the design component of a freshmen engineering design and graphics course. The purpose of the exercise is to expose students to designing and building a simple stringed instrument. This instrument includes a strain gage to (indirectly) measure string tension which is then compared to mathe- matical models and resulting musical pitch. This musical pitch is analyzed using commercially available software that receives input from a contact microphone mounted on the instrument’s body. Student teams document all information through reports and in-class presentations.


An introductory 3-credit, 6-hour per week engineering design and graphics course (ED&G 100) is required for most engineering majors at Penn State. There is no prerequisite for the course, and so, most students are freshmen. This course provides students with the opportunity to improve their graphical skills and expand their knowledge of engineering design. The course introduces students to sketching, drafting, computer aided design, word processing, spreadsheet analysis, business graphics, communications, and the engineering design process.1 Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Medoff, H., & Stace, S., & Margle, J. (2003, June), Incorporating Musical Instrument Design Into A Freshmen Engineering Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12535

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