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Integrating the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Using a Long-Term Green Design Project

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.813.1 - 25.813.11



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Paper Authors


Eric Constans Rowan University

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Eric Constans is the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering program at Rowan University. His research interests include engineering education, design optimization, and acoustics.

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Jennifer Kadlowec Rowan University

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Hong Zhang Rowan University


Bonnie Angelone Rowan University

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Integrating the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum using a Long-Term Green Design Project Part 1: The Hybrid PowertrainEnsuring retention of critical engineering concepts can be quite challenging. Hearing a variationon “but we never learned this!” is an all-too-frequent experience for most instructors, and manystudents feel justified in jettisoning all knowledge of a subject once the final examination is past.The situation is well summarized by Peter Avitabile: “The unfortunate part is that as soon as the test is over or the course is completed, the students often just forget the material since they have no reason to retain the compartmentalized, modularized material.”Subjects that are separate in the curriculum, such as thermodynamics and mechanical design, areintegrated in practice, since thermal and mechanical systems must function cohesively in realmechanical systems (e.g. an air conditioner). With this in mind, we are beginning theimplementation of a novel, potentially transformative approach to integrating courseworkthrough five semesters of the core mechanical engineering curriculum. The research will testtwo hypotheses: 1. A long-term design project that integrates knowledge from multiple courses strengthens student knowledge retention. 2. A large-scale design project requiring tools from many courses improves student problem-solving and design skills.By integrating five semesters of the mechanical engineering curriculum into a cohesive whole,this project has the potential to transform the way undergraduate education is delivered. Beforeand after testing will be conducted to assess a) change in retention between courses and b)change in student problem-solving and design skills.The centerpiece of this research is a long-term design/build/test project that will be developed bystudents over the course of five semesters. The project, a bench-scale hybrid powertrain, isimplemented in modules, so that parts of the project may be completed in disparate courses suchas Thermodynamics, System Dynamics and Control, and Fluid Mechanics. This paper describeseach module, and provides information on how the modules are integrated into a cohesivesystem at the end of the project. This work is supported by the NSF-TUES program (Grant No.1044532.)

Constans, E., & Kadlowec, J., & Zhang, H., & Angelone, B. (2012, June), Integrating the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Using a Long-Term Green Design Project Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21570

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