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Initial Development of the Engineering Genome Project--an Engineering Ontology with Multimedia Resources for Teaching and Learning Engineering Mechanics

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mechanics, Hands-on Demo - Show & Tell!

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.753.1 - 23.753.13



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Paper Authors


Edward J. Berger University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Ed Berger is currently the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He teaches mostly sophomore mechanics courses.

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Initial Development of the Engineering Genome Project--an Engineering Ontology with Multimedia Resources for Teaching and Learning Engineering MechanicsThe Engineering Genome Project (EGP) engages engineering mechanics content experts,computer scientists, and library professionals in the development of the Engineering Genome(EG), a learner-centered and technology-mediated tool for widely disseminating high-qualitymultimedia learning objects to students. Inspired by the Music Genome Project (an effort togenomically define music by its innate attributes, and popularized by the online music servicePandora), the EG will enable learners to identify, view, share, and rate multimedia learningobjects in the form of lectures, derivations, problem solutions, Matlab .m files, animations andthe like. The EG has four main components: (i) an ontology of engineering knowledge, so farconfined to the engineering mechanics domain, that exposes not only taxonomic (i.e.,hierarchical) relationships between topics, but also more distant relationships via a wide range ofshared attributes; (ii) a set of multimedia learning resources (already developed under a separateproject); (iii) a back-end database that captures the multimedia resources and categorizes themaccording to the engineering ontology (which utilizes a built-in algorithm designed to identify“genomic similarity” among seemingly disparate resources); and (iv) a user-friendly front endthat allows learners to interrogate the EG based upon keyword searches.By way of example, consider a student studying infinite series who queries the EG using thekeyword search “infinite series”. The student is immediately served multimedia resourcesincluding derivations related to infinite series and convergence, as well as key downstream usesof infinite series, perhaps Fourier series examples from mechanical vibrations, acoustics, andcircuit analysis. The important feature here is the connection in the learner’s (i.e., novice’s)mind that infinite series are valuable tools, and they are not disjoint from applications in variousengineering disciplines. The EG allows learners to explore these connections that expertsunderstand, but that are too often hidden from novices due to their lack of experience ortechnical sophistication.In this paper, we describe the initial development efforts on the EG, including ontologydevelopment which has so far been confined to engineering mechanics, key decisions made, andlessons learned. In addition, we report on the development of the back-end database andindexing of the multimedia resources according to the engineering ontology. We will alsopresent the genome beta-environment to demonstrate its function, scope, and feature set. Finally,we discuss the on-going evaluation efforts, including usability testing and student focus groups.This initial report on the EGP disseminates the details of the effort and lays the groundwork forfuture development.

Berger, E. J. (2013, June), Initial Development of the Engineering Genome Project--an Engineering Ontology with Multimedia Resources for Teaching and Learning Engineering Mechanics Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19767

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