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Introducing Data Acquisition And Experimental Techniques To Mechanical Engineering Students In The Freshmen Year

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.744.1 - 7.744.14



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Paper Authors

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Risa Robinson

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John Wellin

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


Introducing Data Acquisition and Experimental Techniques to Mechanical Engineering Students in the Freshmen Year

Risa J. Robinson, John Wellin Rochester Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering Department

1 Introduction

In a recent survey of 420 engineers and engineering managers from 24 companies, the ability to design and conduct experiments was rated as one of the highest desirable technical skills they look for in engineering graduates. 1 Specifically, the survey stated that employers want engineering graduates with a working knowledge of data acquisition, analysis and interpretation, a demonstrated ability to formulate a range of alternative problem solutions and computer literacy in simulation, modeling and other tools specific to their profession. The educational community recognizes that the typical engineering curriculum has steadily decreased the emphasis on the study of experimental techniques for problem solving, and as a result, has become a detriment to the profession2. These recent trends are confirmed by results from exit interviews of Mechanical Engineering (ME) seniors at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Apparently, our students at RIT are confident in their analytical and design abilities, but lack the skills and confidence necessary to build and test their designs. They expressed the concern that the current electronics course was not significant nor applied enough to enable them to participate in multidisciplinary projects and co-op opportunities involving electrical and computer components, sensors, data acquisition software or controls. Students suggested that more hands on data acquisition and analyses projects throughout the curriculum, would be extremely valuable in preparation for the workplace.

RIT is addressing these needs by developing a new curriculum based on the Enhanced Educational Experience for Engineers Program (E 4) which was pioneered by Drexel in 1988 3. A critical component of E 4 is the Engineering Test, Simulation and Design Laboratory (ETSDL) 4, the adaptation of which defines the scope of this paper. The ETSDL is based on the belief that experimentation is a critical element of the engineering profession, continuous experiences in experimentation are desirable from a pedagogical point of view, and early hands on experiences enhance student interest and motivation toward engineering at a time when career decisions are being made. These principles are supported by recent data from the educational literature. 5,6,7,8,9

Since its inception in 1988, several colleges have adapted versions of the E4 program to their curriculum. One study conducted in 1999 indicates that the retention rate of E 4 schools compared

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

Robinson, R., & Wellin, J. (2002, June), Introducing Data Acquisition And Experimental Techniques To Mechanical Engineering Students In The Freshmen Year Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10855

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