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Lessons Learned From A Multi Faceted Freshman Design Project: Software Development, Electronics, Mechanical Construction, Software Hardware Interface And Economics

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design in Freshman and Sophomore Courses

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.848.1 - 13.848.14



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Paper Authors


David Shaw Geneva College

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David W. Shaw is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Geneva College. He received his B.S.M.E. in 1983 from Geneva College and his M.S. (1986) and Ph.D. (1988) from the Ohio State University. His research interests include measurement and modeling of thermal properties of materials and teaching the design process in undergraduate engineering classes. He has developed courses and laboratories in heat transfer, fluid mechanics, instrumentation, and freshman design. He has been active in sponsoring student teams in competitions such as Solar Splash, as well as advising the ASME student section. In 2006 he was named Engineer of the Year by the ASME Pittsburgh section. His idea of an ideal day includes a run of at least 6 miles in a quiet place, preferably while camping with his wife and four children.

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Murat Tanyel Geneva College

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

Lessons Learned from a Multi-Faceted Freshman Design Project: Software Development, Electronics, Mechanical Construction, Software-Hardware Interface and Economics


In recent publications, we have described the lessons learned from attempts to combine software instruction with the design experience in a freshman Introduction to Engineering course. Initial efforts exposed students to the LabVIEW programming environment as a separate activity from the design experience. The design project was then changed to one in which LabVIEW was used as the software interface for a Hot Wheels Drag Racing Timing and Control System. In this version, freshmen were introduced to LabVIEW as a programming environment and were required to apply this body of knowledge to their design project. At the third iteration, we changed to a more focused instruction in LabVIEW with exercises pertinent to software- hardware interface. We also introduced budgeting by supplying pre-packaged LabVIEW VI’s and sub-VIs which could be “purchased” using a limited, predetermined budget of “EGR dollars” with similar options available for the release mechanism and the timing electronics. The availability of the purchase option introduced realistic budget constraints to the design process, with associated penalties or rewards for performance relative to that budget.

We observed that the option of purchasing various components for this project had two major positive effects. The first was an increase in the number of successful projects. The second was thoughtful planning and use of their budgets with provisions of contingency funds for last minute corrections. Assessment using a departmental rubric showed an improvement in attainment of course outcomes related to solution of engineering problems (ABET criterion 3, outcome e).


Integration of engineering design experiences into first-year introduction to engineering courses is an important and challenging task, as we try to keep the activities from becoming stale and repetitious, while at the same time keeping the projects at an appropriate level for these new college students and attempting to retain these students in the engineering majors. Tanyel reflected on an initial trial of teaching LabVIEW in the EGR101 class at Geneva College1. His recommendations for future revisions to this course included revision of the notes/text which he authored for the course, more sessions taught in the computer laboratory, more use of Blackboard for virtual classroom work, and including other engineering faculty in the design projects.

The first author had taught EGR101 for the previous six years, and returned to teaching this course in Fall 2005. We thought it desirable to continue the LabVIEW component of the course and to create design projects which required the students to apply the LabVIEW concepts they would learn during the computer lab sessions. This decision was based on the recommendations listed above, plus specific student comments on the end-of-course survey asking for “more complicated tasks” using LabVIEW and a general feeling of student confidence in the use of LabVIEW, which seemed desirable to reinforce. The new project component is also consistent

Shaw, D., & Tanyel, M. (2008, June), Lessons Learned From A Multi Faceted Freshman Design Project: Software Development, Electronics, Mechanical Construction, Software Hardware Interface And Economics Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4303

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