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Industrial Partnering Results In A Problem Solving Learning Environment And A Project Based Capstone Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Industrial Collaborations and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.887.1 - 12.887.6



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Paper Authors


John Marshall University of Southern Maine

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JOHN MARSHALL received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and is the Internship Coordinator for the University of Southern Maine’s Department of Technology. His areas of specialization include Power and Energy Processing, Electronic Control Systems, and Automation.

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

Industrial Partnering Results in a Problem Solving Learning Environment and a Project Based Capstone Course


The purpose of this paper is to describe a very successful problem solving environment that has been developed with financial and technical assistance from local industries. Four prerequisite courses are briefly described before focusing on the project based capstone course. These four courses provide the students with the technical skill sets needed to succeed in the senior level capstone course.

Our advancing world of computer integration, process control, industrial automation, and telecommunications requires technical problem solvers and knowledgeable decision makers. “The activities of problem solving and decision making are closely intertwined”,1 and both skills can effective be learned through project based capstone courses. Industrial partnering has enabled the development of a state-of-the-art power and automation curriculum and project based problem solving learning environment for our students and also for the communities beyond campus.

The project based problem solving learning environment is organized into clusters. These clusters are equipped with components such as computers, printers, programmable logic controllers, sensors, pneumatic valves and actuators, mechanisms, rotary index tables, hydraulic cylinders, electric motors, and vibratory feeder bowls. In the senior capstone course, participants are grouped into teams that solve realistic industrial problems such as parts sorting, quality control, clamp and work circuits, material handling, and component assembly.

Problem Solving Learning Environment

The freshmen level courses that utilize the problem solving learning environment are electricity/electronics and mechanical power conversions. The first course focuses on electrical components and concepts. Students learn how to mathematically calculate electrical variables such as current, voltage, and resistance. Then they physically assemble circuits and test their mathematical results with electronic instrumentation. In another activity, students calculate the frequency needed to drive an electric motor at a several differed speeds (RPM). The students then program a variable speed drive unit and use a strobe light to determine if their calculations were correct.

Marshall, J. (2007, June), Industrial Partnering Results In A Problem Solving Learning Environment And A Project Based Capstone Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1620

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