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Integration of Engineering Theory and Practice in a Junior-Level Machine Design Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Materials, Manufacturing, and Machine Component Design

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Robert Scott Pierce P.E. Western Carolina University

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Robert Scott Pierce is an Associate Professor of physics and engineering at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1993. Prior to his teaching career, he spent 13 years in industry designing automated equipment.

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Wesley L. Stone Western Carolina University

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Dr. Wes Stone is an associate professor in the School of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. He earned his bachelors degree from the University of Texas at Austin, masters degree from Penn State, and PhD from Georgia Tech, all in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include manufacturing processes, quality techniques, and outdoor recreation gear design/testing. He also serves as the program director for Engineering Technology at WCU.

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Sudhir Kaul Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kaul is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Western Carolina University. His research interests include Fracture Diagnostics, Structural Dynamics and Control, and Motorcycle Dynamics.

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There is currently a trend in engineering education away from a theory-based approach towards a blend of theory combined with the application of that theory to engineering practice. Current ABET criteria for engineering programs focus on the ability of students to recognize engineering problems in a real system and to correctly apply engineering principles to those problems. The authors describe a junior-level course in machine design that combines a classic, theoretical treatment of the design of machine elements with a semester-long lab in which students design and analyze a ski lift to be used at a local ski resort. This is a required course for all Engineering majors in the Mechanical Engineering Concentration. The sequence of presentation of theoretical content in the course is tightly coordinated with the requirements of the ski lift project, so that students are presented with theory on an “as-needed” basis. Preliminary evaluation of student perception of learning based on Student Assessment of Instruction (SAI) data demonstrates that students feel that learning of theoretical content is improved when it is motivated by the need to solve a problem for their ski lift design.

Pierce, R. S., & Stone, W. L., & Kaul, S. (2017, June), Integration of Engineering Theory and Practice in a Junior-Level Machine Design Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28567

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