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Let’s Break Stuff! A Refit of the Mechanics Sequence of Courses to Inspire Student Inquiry

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Mechanics, Music, Meaning, and Mohr

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28626

Download Count

81

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Paper Authors

biography

Jakob C Bruhl P.E. U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1645-4520

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Lieutenant Colonel Jakob Bruhl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, M.S. Degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Missouri. His research interests include resilient infrastructure, protective structures, and engineering education.

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biography

James Ledlie Klosky U.S. Military Academy

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Led Klosky is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a past winner of ASEE's National Teaching Medal. He is a licensed professional engineer and works primarily in the areas of infrastructure, subsurface engineering and engineering education.

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biography

Joseph P. Hanus U.S. Military Academy

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Colonel Joseph Hanus is the Civil Engineering Program Director at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville; M.S. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is an active member of ASEE and is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin. His research interests include fiber reinforced polymer materials, accelerated bridge construction, and engineering education.

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Abstract

There is a growing consensus that our students need to build a different set of skills during their college experience than was necessary in decades past. In addition to technical knowledge, graduates of engineering programs must enter the workforce inspired and able to engage in design activities, creatively solving problems, learning on their own, and comfortably navigating the information-rich environment we live and work in. There is also a growing body of knowledge concerning how to most effectively teach modern students – highlighting the value of student-centered learning, active learning experiences, and effective integration of technology.

After an internal assessment, the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the US Military Academy determined that the initial sequence of mechanics courses provided the technical content our students needed but required updating in some important ways. First, mechanics was being taught isolated from the broader design process. Secondly, there was no integration of computer programs to begin the education of our students on their effective use (and understanding their limitations). Finally, students were largely asked to demonstrate that they could repeat a calculation they had seen worked in class rather than creating or discovering their own solutions, failing to provide the time, space and inspirational structure necessary for students to apply their knowledge in a way that demonstrates a broader understanding.

For these reasons, the department conducted a radical overhaul of two courses: MC300 (Fundamentals of Engineering Mechanics and Design, which combines statics and introductory mechanics topics) and MC364 (Mechanics of Materials). The rethinking of these courses included many hands-on learning activities in place of instructor demonstrations, specifically designed to inspire the students to engage with acquiring the knowledge they need rather than waiting for it to be ladled into their brains. Many of these were designed to lead to student discovery of mechanics principles. The courses now also integrate computer aided design software to begin teaching students how to effectively use these powerful resources. Including CAD software was also intended to assist in the development of engineering judgment through assignments that required students to investigate the effect of changing parameters, allowing them to see the results in a visually rich computer environment.

This paper describes the assessment that led to the changes, provides an overview of the changes made, and reports initial assessment data related to the changes. Syllabii of the two courses are included along with explanations of hands-on learning activities and CAD implementation.

Bruhl, J. C., & Klosky, J. L., & Hanus, J. P. (2017, June), Let’s Break Stuff! A Refit of the Mechanics Sequence of Courses to Inspire Student Inquiry Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28626

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015