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Living With The Lab: Sustainable Lab Experiences For Freshman Engineering Students

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

DELOS Best Paper Nominations

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.846.1 - 15.846.15



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Paper Authors

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Kelly Crittenden Louisiana Tech University Orcid 16x16

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David Hall Louisiana Tech University

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Patricia Brackin Southeast Missouri State University

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

Living With the Lab: Sustainable Lab Experiences for Freshman Engineering Students


In the United States, a movement toward project-based freshman engineering curricula began in ngineering Education Coalitions. This movement continues at Universities across the country. At Louisiana Tech University, we began our own engineering curriculum reform in 1995. Through the support of the College and the National Science Foundation we have implemented and revised multiple Integrated Engineering Curricula.

One obstacle to implementing an active-learning, laboratory experience at the freshman level is the required infrastructure and setup time. These barriers can lead to either poorly implemented projects with no connection to the curricula or to time-intensive preparations by the faculty and staff. Through multiple iterations of our freshman curriculum, we have developed an active, hands-on lab-type experience at the freshman level that is both tightly integrated to the course content and does not require extensive set up and tear down time by the faculty.

purchase a commercially available microcontroller kit which is used throughout the year to introduce the fundamentals of engineering. Students gain hands-on experience collecting and analyzing data, designing and implementing real control systems, modeling and fabricating system components, and finally creating their own solution to an open-ended problem. This Living With the Lab curriculum is aligned with the outcomes suggested by the National -

This paper will describe the Living With the Lab curriculum while focusing on several of the lab experiences and how they connect to the curriculum. Data will be presented that show a marked increase (over our previous curriculum) in the number of times laboratory type, hands-on activities are performed by the students. We are tracking data points such as the number of times a student reports to have used a dial caliper, as well as a student s confidence in locating specifications and prices for [supplies and materials] used in course projects . . .


Engineering faculty who are committed to educational reform have long since realized that passive lecture-based instruction should be replaced by active, integrative, project-based learning1. In the United States, the movement toward project-based freshman engineering curricula began in the 1990s due in large part to the National Science Foundation Engineering Education Coalitions2-5. This movement towards hands-on freshman engineering programs with a significant design component continues today at universities across the United States 6-8. A vast body of literature on the subject clearly shows the benefits of incorporating project-based instruction with design early and often. Over the past six years, the College of Engineering and Science at Louisiana Tech has taught a

Crittenden, K., & Hall, D., & Brackin, P. (2010, June), Living With The Lab: Sustainable Lab Experiences For Freshman Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16427

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