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Instructor Friendly Introductory Laboratory Projects For Use In 2 Or 4 Year Colleges

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Exploring Technological Literacy and Awareness

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.746.1 - 14.746.9



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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Hope College

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Professor of Engineering

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Kate Disney Mission College

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Engineering Instructor

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

Instructor-Friendly Introductory Laboratory Projects for Use in 2 or 4 Year Colleges


A group of educators from engineering programs at both four and two year colleges has developed laboratory modules with an emphasis on activities and perspectives shown to be successful in technological literacy courses for non-engineering students. To meet the needs of community college engineering programs, the logistical and commercial feasibility of shipping boxes or palettes of equipment was investigated. This will allow community colleges to borrow, rent, or lease rather than own the equipment. The laboratories were also developed to be completely self-contained so that all materials needed arrive in a single box in a ready-to-use condition. This was intended to minimize the preparation time for instructors in the two year college environment. These laboratories are suitable for use in either introduction to engineering or courses on engineering topics for non-engineers. The laboratories attempt to utilize insights from non-engineering students to determine themes that may enliven introduction to engineering courses. Technological literacy courses on a number of campuses have found that non-engineers respond positively to material that focuses on technology familiar to the students in their everyday life, use extensive verbal and graphical explanations, and include useful information that helps to establish a sense of empowerment regarding technology. Projects include building and testing common technological devices such as speakers, amplifiers, motors, and a photovoltaic battery charger. Eight laboratory projects will be created and tested both with non- engineering students and students enrolled in introduction to engineering classes in both two or four year schools. Results will be presented from testing done during the 2008-2009 academic year. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation under award: DUE-0633277.


The National Academy of Engineering is advocating that all Americans need to better understand all types of technology not just computers and information technology [1]. While not yet common, some engineering departments offer service courses for non-engineers [2]. Many of these technological literacy courses have become successful when measured by sustained student interest and long-term sustainability [2,3]. In attempting to enliven introduction to engineering courses, these successful technological literacy courses represent a potential source for themes or topics.

In addition to capturing the interest of first year students, efforts to attract students to an engineering career must acknowledge that two-year institutions or community colleges represent the fastest growing segment of higher education [4]. Recent data shows that 40% of individuals earning bachelor or master’s engineering degrees started higher education in a community college. The trend is higher in some states such as California for which more than 48% of graduates with science or engineering degrees started at a community college [5].

Despite this contribution to the nation’s engineering workforce, engineering education in a community college environment presents formidable challenges for both students and

Krupczak, J., & Disney, K. (2009, June), Instructor Friendly Introductory Laboratory Projects For Use In 2 Or 4 Year Colleges Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4904

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