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Integration of System Thinking, Engineering Reasoning, and Decision-making Skills in Design of Thermal Systems Course

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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

New Concepts for Alternative Energy Courses and Concepts

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.822.1 - 25.822.15



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Paper Authors


Kendrick T. Aung Lamar University

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Kendrick T. Aung is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lamar University. He received his Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering from University of Michigan in 1996. He is an active member of ASEE, ASME, AIAA, SAE, ASHRAE, and Combustion Institute. He has published more than 70 technical papers and presented several papers at national and international conferences.

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Integration of system thinking, engineering reasoning, and decision making skills in Design of Thermal Systems courseAbstractA Capstone design class is a required course to complete engineering degree requirements forengineering seniors in all engineering discipline. Each student group is required to completedesign of an engineering product. Design of thermal system is in essence a Capstone design classfor thermal and energy systems. One of the major difficulties encountered by instructors in theseCapstone design courses is that many senior students do not have adequate preparation inapplying design skills such as critical thinking, engineering reasoning, and decision making tosuccessfully complete their design project. These skills are higher level cognitive skills known asapplication, analysis, synthesis and evaluation according to Bloom’s Taxonomy [1].Current engineering curricula are generally concentrated on providing the students with lowerlevel cognitive skills: namely, knowledge, comprehension and application, through sophomoreand junior level mathematics and engineering science courses in leading up to the senior level.The curricula implicitly assume that students who become proficient in these lower levelcognitive skills will be able to apply high level cognitive skills in the senior classes, especiallydesign and Capstone design classes. Unfortunately, it was not the case for many seniorengineering students. It is essential that engineering students develop the generalizable criticalthinking skills and disposition necessary for effectively and professionally reasoning through thecomplex engineering issues and questions they will face as engineers [2]. In this paper, theprocess of integrating system thinking, engineering reasoning, and decision making in the Designof Thermal Systems senior course will be described. The paper will include several classactivities to integrate these skills, impact of these activities on student learning and design skills,and the rating of students on these activities as related to their design skills.Reference[1] Bloom, B. S., “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” David McKay, New York, 1961.[2] Paul, R., Niewoehner, R., and Elder, L., “The Thinker’s Guide to Engineering Reasoning,” 2nd edition,Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2006.

Aung, K. T. (2012, June), Integration of System Thinking, Engineering Reasoning, and Decision-making Skills in Design of Thermal Systems Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21579

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