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Integrating The Teaching Of Computer Skills With An Introduction To Mechanical Engineering Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Improving ME Education: Trends in Mechanical Engineering II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.931.1 - 12.931.11



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Paper Authors


Timothy Hinds Michigan State University

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TIMOTHY J. HINDS is an Academic Specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Mechanical Engineering. He teaches undergraduate courses in machine design, manufacturing processes, mechanics and computational tools. He also teaches a senior-level undergraduate international design project course and has taught graduate-level courses in engineering innovation and technology management. He received his BSME and MSME degrees from Michigan Technological University.

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Craig Somerton Michigan State University

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CRAIG W. SOMERTON is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the undergraduate program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He teaches in the area of thermal engineering including thermodynamics, heat transfer, and thermal design. Dr. Somerton has research interests in computer design of thermal systems, transport phenomena in porous media, and application of continuous quality improvement principles to engineering education. He received his B.S. in 1976, his M.S. in 1979, and his Ph.D. in 1982, all in engineering from UCLA.

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

Integrating the Teaching of Computer Skills With an Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Course Introduction

Most all engineering programs, mechanical engineering included, have a required computer analysis course that focuses on the development of student programming skills1,2. Many mechanical engineering programs also have a course that provides an introduction to the mechanical engineering profession3. Both of these courses are typically offered at the freshman level. At Michigan State University (MSU), a retooling of our freshman program has lead to the development of a single course addressing both of these needs. The new course approaches the teaching of these two topics with a problem solving orientation. This paper presents the lessons learned from two pilot runs of this new course entitled: Creative Engineering Solutions. The course is very project oriented with assignments dealing with the disciplines of mechanical engineering, including forces in structures, materials, fluid mechanics, thermal systems, motion and power, manufacturing processes, and mechatronics. Details of the various projects and other student assignments are provided. Course learning objectives that have been developed and set are also shared. Student feedback is presented and the evolution of the course is discussed.

Course Learning Objectives

A number of course learning objectives were developed by a pilot course task force following a survey of programs at other institutions4,5 and using feedback provided by MSU Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty. Details of the development of the MSU Mechanical Engineering (ME) Freshman Program may be found in previous work by the authors6. Learning objectives for the introduction to mechanical engineering with computer skills course were formalized as:

1. Introduce students to the mechanical engineering discipline and profession.

2. Demonstrate how basic mathematics and science fits into engineering practice.

3. Introduce students to the engineering design problem solving method in a rigorous fashion.

4. Teach students to use computer applications such as MATLAB®, Excel® and Basic.

5. Help students develop their communication, study, organizational, and teaming skills.

6. Prepare students for and begin their integration into the culture of the mechanical engineering program.

Course Structure

The three-credit course was taught in a lecture and laboratory format. A syllabus for the course may be found in Appendix 1. Lectures were held twice per week for 50 minutes each. The laboratory sessions also met twice per week for 80 minutes each. To provide students with continuity and a logical connection between the lecture topics and the practice of solution

Hinds, T., & Somerton, C. (2007, June), Integrating The Teaching Of Computer Skills With An Introduction To Mechanical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2658

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