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Integrating Design Projects Into An Introductory Course In Graphics Communications

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.610.1 - 6.610.5

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David S. Cottrell

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

Session 2306

Integrating Design Projects into an Introductory Course in Graphic Communications

David S. Cottrell Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg

I. Introduction

This paper describes the integration of design projects into the curriculum of an introductory graphics communications course at Penn State University at Harrisburg. These projects served a double purpose of reinforcing topics taught in the classroom as well as introducing students to the engineering design process with their first hands-on design experience.

In recent years, much has been written about the many potential benefits resulting from a freshman-level “Introduction to Engineering” or “Introduction to Design” course. Despite these benefits, however, many institutions have been unable to add such a course to their engineering curricula, for a variety of legitimate reasons. Penn State University at Harrisburg has opted to initially work toward this objective by aggressively integrating the fundamentals of design throughout the engineering technology program curriculum. In particular, this article features ET 200, “Graphic Communications,” a course taken by all students in the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology Program, generally during the fall semester of their junior year. The course content is conventional and develops basic skills in the student aimed at reading and interpreting commercial and residential construction drawings. For most students, ET 200 is their first engineering course with the potential for a design component. These design projects presented in this paper were developed and implemented with specific objectives in mind:

• To stimulate interest in engineering and design; • To provide the user with an opportunity to perform a legitimate design based on realistic design specifications and constraints; • To introduce the student to various aspects of architectural as well as structural engineering fundamentals.

With the scenario and content of each project keyed to the block of instruction being taught at the time, the design projects effectively highlighted and reinforced course topics taught throughout the semester. The projects themselves were structured to include – at the elemental level – all of the fundamental aspects of design as defined in the ABET accreditation criteria. The projects are based on real-world scenarios; they are open- ended, permitting many possible solutions; and they require formulation of problem-

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Cottrell, D. S. (2001, June), Integrating Design Projects Into An Introductory Course In Graphics Communications Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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