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Integration Of Laptop Computers Into A Freshman Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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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

6.630.1 - 6.630.8

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Paper Authors

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William Edward Howard

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Joseph Musto

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

Session 2793

Integration of Laptop Computers into a Freshman Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Joseph C. Musto, William Edward Howard Milwaukee School of Engineering


The implementation of the Notebook Computer Program at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), in which all new incoming students are provided with a laptop computer, has had a major impact on curriculum development in the Mechanical Engineering Program. The implementation of this program resulted in a number of curricular changes, including a revision of the first course in programming, a revision of the Introduction to Engineering Concepts course, and most importantly the development of a new course entitled Computer Applications in Engineering. This new course, taken by all Mechanical Engineering Department freshmen as of the 1999-2000 academic year, was designed to meet four specific curricular objectives: 1) To familiarize the students with the laptop computing environment and infrastructure at MSOE; 2) To familiarize the students with specific software tools required for both their academic careers at MSOE and professional practice; 3) To develop formal problem solving methodologies which integrate the use of the computer; 4) To expose the students to the various areas of technical concentration available in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Software packages including Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software, Matlab mathematical analysis software, and SolidWorks solid modeling software are used extensively in this new course. Mathematical concepts such as linear algebra, numerical integration, root finding, and optimization are introduced, and are applied to a variety of physical systems encountered in mechanical and industrial engineering applications. The implementation of this new course, taught during two quarters by a total of four instructors, has proven to be a success from both the student and faculty perspective.

I. Introduction

In the fall of 1999, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) introduced a Notebook Computer Program for all incoming students. As part of the initiative, each new student was provided with a Compaq Armada 1750 notebook computer and a standard suite of software. Conventional classrooms were provided with network connections and projection equipment to facilitate the integration of notebook computers into select classes. In conjunction with this program, a revised Mechanical Engineering curriculum was launched, designed to exploit the availability of notebook computing technology. The highlight of this curriculum revision is Computer Applications in Engineering, a freshman-level Mechanical Engineering Department course

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

Howard, W. E., & Musto, J. (2001, June), Integration Of Laptop Computers Into A Freshman Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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