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Inhancing Student Creativity And Respect For The Linkages Between Analysis And Design In A First Year Engineering Course

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.316.1 - 4.316.16

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Paper Authors

author page

Alfred J., Jr. Bedard

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

Session 3253


Alfred J. Bedard Jr. University of Colorado Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department Campus Box 429 Boulder, Colorado 80309


There is great value in introducing hands-on components to first year student courses and providing them with opportunities to nurture their creative talents. A risk is to develop a reflex that trial and error can solve most problems and reduce student respect for the analytical component of engineering. Radish and Steinberg1 in a 1999 paper expressed similar concerns. In order to create an environment where the seamless interplay between analysis and the execution of a design concept is emphasized, a series of projects attempt to underline this natural connection. The goal of these projects is to preserve open ended, creative problem solving components while also including theory requirements. Three projects address this goal. Two are given concurrently in an effort to also develop project management skills. These are the design and construction of a Rube Goldberg device and the creation of a craft propelled and suspended on a water surface using surface tension forces. The third project involves reverse engineering an engineered device. Each of these projects has a strong analysis component built into the requirements. For the Rube Goldberg, the final report has to include the analysis of one segment and a comparison between theory and practice. The students are also required to review the elements of their design and indicate, which were driven by trial and error and which were guided by theory. They are encouraged to use their courses in math and physics as resources for this. For the surface tension design a series of equations with text is provided to assist the design process. This includes information on how to determine the amount of weight that can be suspended, and equations valuable for designing a propulsion system, the craft size and shape, and other design details. In their final report they need to summarize how each of the analytical relationships guided their design. A racing competition is an element of this project. Finally, the reverse engineering project includes a requirement for an analysis of one portion of the design including a comparison with quantitative testing. Project details will be reviewed in this paper and experiences summarized.

Bedard, A. J. J. (1999, June), Inhancing Student Creativity And Respect For The Linkages Between Analysis And Design In A First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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