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Introducing Systems Modeling At The Freshman Level

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.831.1 - 10.831.12



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Paper Authors

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Cecelia Wigal

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

Introducing Systems Modeling at the Freshman Level Cecelia M. Wigal, Ph.D., P.E. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Abstract The Engineering program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) emphasizes the elements of the design process throughout the curriculum, beginning with the freshmen year. At the sophomore level all engineering students use design concepts to design, build, and test small structural and mechanical projects. At the junior and senior level the students use the design process to solve real-life and open-ended interdisciplinary industry-based problems provided by industrial sponsors. In addition, students apply design concepts in a three credit hour discipline- based senior capstone project.

However, it is at the freshmen level where the students are introduced to the foundations of the design process. The freshmen course emphasizes (1) problem definition, (2) attribute generation, (3) function, constraint and objective identification, (4) idea generation, (5) creative thinking, and (6) simple decision-making using individual and team exercises. All this is done in the context of a real-life application—improving an entity. In this case the entity is an everyday small appliance, tool, or toy.

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach to evolving and verifying an integrated set of product and process solutions that satisfy customer needs. It uses modeling techniques to analyze—separate a study or entity into individual pieces—and synthesize—look at the relationships between parts to form new conclusions. It is an integral part of the design process for any engineering discipline.

This paper describes the techniques and models of systems engineering introduced to freshman students in the Introduction to Engineering Design course at UTC.

Introduction The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we can not solve at the same level (of consciousness) at which we have created them… We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to survive. – Albert Einstein Systems’ thinking is rooted in systems engineering which practices an interdisciplinary approach to evolve and verify an integrated set of product and process solutions that satisfy customer needs. Systems thinking begins with analysis—separating a study or entity into individual pieces—and emphasizes synthesis—looking at the relationships between parts to form new conclusions. Systems thinking aids the user to take into account a greater number of interactions as a study evolves and to categorize interactions as to level of effect on the final solution. The spirit of systems thinking makes it an effective tool in a variety of applications and levels of complex problems.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Wigal, C. (2005, June), Introducing Systems Modeling At The Freshman Level Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14515

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