June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.999.1 - 12.999.9
Laboratory Improvement: A Student Project to Develop Initiative and Innovation as a Permanent State of Mind
This work presents a student project for an undergraduate mechanical engineering laboratory, exemplified here by the Thermal Sciences Lab. In this project, as part of the final grade, each student lab group (typically a group of four) had to conceive and offer improvements or better ways to do a specific laboratory. There were no other imposed restrictions, meaning that the improvements could be in any area, such as hardware, software, work procedure, technical presentation, etc.
By having the project running in parallel with the labs several objectives were attained. The first objective was related to the fact that our department recognizes that, especially in today’s global- scale competitive market, seeking innovation and spotting opportunities is essential for engineers; therefore students should be exposed as much as possible to the ideas of continuous innovation and product or process improvement. Second, being a group project, students were exposed to the practical aspects and important advantages of collaboration and brainstorming. Third, due to the latest innovations in technology and education, laboratory based work is always in need of enhancement; students engaged in performing lab work are well positioned to understand the possible shortcomings, and thus propose improvements; each student, according to his or her own ideas and experience (such as experience gained during the coop program), should be able to have a contribution, ranging from very small to significant, to at least one of the labs he/she was exposed. Lastly, best solutions can be followed by senior design projects in which the proposed improvements are further developed and implemented in the laboratory.
This paper shows how the project was organized in our department, and also presents some of the most significant results obtained during its first-year implementation. Based on the positive results obtained, it was used again in the subsequent semester, and most likely will be used in the future.
Numerous studies have indicated that, in the global nature of today’s economy, and even more in the economic environment of the years to come, the students we teach today will have to compete or work with engineers from around the world. In this context education becomes even more important. For example, a recent report on the future of higher education1 shows that “in tomorrow’s world a nation’s wealth will derive from its capacity to educate, attract, and retain citizens who are able to work smarter and learn faster”; “ninety percent of the fastest-growing jobs … will require some postsecondary education”.
The quality of higher education is therefore extremely important. Many companies, such as General Electric and Intel, are well aware that globalization directly implies “finding and attracting the unlimited pool of intellectual capital - the very best people - from all around the globe” 2. Higher education must promote the principles of “initiative, independence,
Cioc, S., & Ciocanel, C., & Masiulaniec, K. C., & Oliver, D. (2007, June), Laboratory Improvement: A Student Project To Develop Initiative And Innovation As A Permanent State Of Mind Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2682
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