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Learning Kinematics From Concept And Experience

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.427.1 - 5.427.10

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Paper Authors

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Akihiko Kumagai

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Mukasa Ssemakula

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

Session 3548

Learning Kinematics from Concept and Experience

Akihiko Kumagai and Mukasa E. Ssemakula Division of Engineering Technology Wayne State University Detroit, MI 48202


Study of kinematics and dynamics of machinery involves very challenging mathematics for engineering technology students who typically take this course at their junior level in a 4-year baccalaureate curriculum. Although mathematics is an essential tool for designing and analyzing mechanisms, this heavy burden in mathematics carries a risk of taking students’attention away from developing the important fundamental concepts of kinematics which are truly beneficial in their future practical technical work. This paper describes an attempt at WSU to develop an experimental kinematics and dynamics course such that students learn the subject from concept and experience. In this method, students are first challenged to solve kinematics problems through the computer simulation software Working Model without knowing the underlying mathematical tools. In this challenge, students will improve the simulation results through trial and error and their own approaches. In most cases, they will realize that the perfect solution has to be obtained from an approach they do not yet know. This challenge will provide them with the experience to develop a concept of each kinematics problem. Only after this challenge, will students be exposed to mathematical approaches to provide perfect solutions to challenge the problems. Finally, they will try another set of simulations using the mathematical approaches they mastered and verify the validity of the mathematical approaches.

I. Introduction

In a traditional kinematics course taught at a typical American university or college, students spend the majority of study time to master mathematical skills to solve miscellaneous kinematics problems. Mathematical skills represented by linear algebra and calculus are very challenging to many students who take kinematics courses in their junior year in a four-year BS curriculum. In addition to the material itself being intellectually demanding, it is frequently taught in a lecture format with little opportunity for active student participation or experimentation. Consequently, students often find it difficult to make the connection between the theoretical concepts covered in the lectures and the corresponding physical phenomena.

This paper describes the development of a course for kinematics and dynamics of machines, aimed at students pursuing BS degrees in Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology. The course is being developed under the auspices of the Greenfield Coalition (NSF supported project) at the Focus:HOPE Center for Advanced Technologies (CAT) in Detroit, Michigan. The course material is also used in the Kinematics of Machines course at Wayne State University. Most students attending those institutions are working students. They learn technical subjects most effectively and enthusiastically when they realize that those subjects have useful

Kumagai, A., & Ssemakula, M. (2000, June), Learning Kinematics From Concept And Experience Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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