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Laboratory Projects Appropriate For Nonengineers And Introduction To Engineering

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.832.1 - 14.832.6



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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Hope College

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Professor of Engineering

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Kate Disney Mission College

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Engineering Instructor

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Scott VanderStoep Hope College

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Professor of Psychology

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

Laboratory Projects Appropriate for Non-Engineers and Introduction to Engineering


A group from engineering programs at both four and two year colleges has developed laboratory modules with an emphasis on activities and perspectives shown to be successful in technological literacy courses for non-engineering students. To meet the needs of community college engineering programs, the logistical and commercial feasibility of shipping boxes or palettes of equipment was investigated. This will allow community colleges to borrow, rent, or lease rather than own the equipment. These laboratories are suitable for use in either introduction to engineering or technological literacy courses. The laboratories attempt to utilize insights from non-engineering students to determine themes that may enliven introduction to engineering courses. Beginning engineering students may have interests more closely aligned with their non- engineer peers than current engineering professionals. Technological literacy courses on a number of campuses have found that non-engineers respond positively to material that a focuses on technology familiar to the students in their everyday life, use extensive verbal and graphical explanations, and include useful information that helps to establish a sense of empowerment regarding technology. Eight laboratory projects are being created and tested both with non- engineering students and students enrolled in introduction to engineering classes. Projects include building and testing common technological devices such as speakers, amplifiers, motors, and a photovoltaic battery charger. Results from testing during the 2008-2009 academic year will be presented. The work is supported by the National Science Foundation under award: DUE- 0633277.


The National Academy of Engineering is advocating that all Americans need to better understand all types of technology not just computers and information technology [1]. While not yet common, some engineering departments offer service courses for non-engineers [2]. Many of these technological literacy courses have become successful when measured by sustained student interest and long-term sustainability [2,3]. In attempting to enliven introduction to engineering courses, these successful technological literacy courses represent a potential source for themes or topics.

In addition to capturing the interest of first year students, efforts to attract students to an engineering career must acknowledge that two-year institutions or community colleges represent the fastest growing segment of higher education [4]. Recent data shows that 40% of individuals earning bachelor or master’s engineering degrees started higher education in a community college. The trend is higher in some states such as California for which more than 48% of graduates with science or engineering degrees started at a community college [5].

Despite this contribution to the nation’s engineering workforce, engineering education in a community college environment presents formidable challenges for both students and instructors. Most community colleges have small engineering programs with only a few faculty,

Krupczak, J., & Disney, K., & VanderStoep, S. (2009, June), Laboratory Projects Appropriate For Nonengineers And Introduction To Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4865

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