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Machine Design Experiments Using Gears to Foster Discovery Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mechanics of Materials

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1101.1 - 26.1101.10



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Paper Authors


Jonathon E. Slightam Marquette University

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Jonathon E. Slightam received his B.S degree in mechanical engineering and M.Sc. in engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Jonathon is currently a PhD student in mechanical engineering at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. From 2009 to 2014, he was a research assistant in the Rapid Prototyping Research laboratory at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. In 2013 he was an engineering intern at Parker Hannifin’s hydraulic cartridge systems group located in Lincolnshire, IL. Presently, he is a teaching assistant for the mechanical engineering department at Marquette University. His interests are in the modeling, design, and control of flexible fluidic actuators, humanoid robots, and design of efficient mobile robots using additive manufacturing.

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Mark L. Nagurka Marquette University

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MARK NAGURKA, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Marquette University. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the U.of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T. He taught at Carnegie Mellon before joining Marquette University. His professional interests are in the design of mechanical and electromechanical systems and in engineering education. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and a former Fulbright Scholar.

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Machine Design Experiments Using Gears to Foster Discovery LearningFor the typical undergraduate engineering student the topic of gears is introduced and discussedin several courses. Early exposure may be in a physics course or in a first dynamics course,where gear pairs are presented as an idealized means to change speed ratios and torque ratios.They are used for mechanical advantage or to achieve desired speed, and the focus is usually onkinematics. Since gears have inertia they store kinetic energy and are part of the dynamicequations of motion of mechanisms and machines. For mechanical engineering students, gearsare a core component studied in courses such as 'kinematics and dynamics of mechanisms' and'machine design', where the nomenclature and design equations are developed for various typesof gears. There may be exposure to real gears in a mechanical engineering laboratory; moreoften, students may see gears passed around in class and as part of demonstrations.In this paper we describe new experiments that were designed to provide mechanical engineeringstudents with discovery learning experiences with gears and mechanical systems using gears.The suite of practical experiments presents students with a range of challenges that require themto analyze, measure, design, and fabricate gears. Activities in the experiments include: (1) Identifying gear types (spur, helical, bevel, etc.) and appropriate applications (automotive transmissions and differentials, drills, gearhead motors). (2) Disassembling and re-assembling a kitchen mixer (with design and manufacturing questions related to its gears). (3) Disassembling and re-assembling an automotive HVAC baffle subassembly (with measurement of train ratios, and design and manufacturing questions related to its gears). (4) Designing the gear mechanism for driving the minute and hour hands of a gear clock given a known yet arbitrary drive speed. Fabricating the gears of the clock via rapid prototyping (3D printing), assembling the clock, and then testing the timing accuracy.In addition to reporting the details of the experiments, we share experiences of students andteaching assistants in their use and effectiveness. We provide insights into how well studentsbecame familiar with types and nomenclature of gears and understood the applicability ofdifferent gears to actual real-world problems. The intent of the experiments is to effectivelyenhance mechanical engineering students' awareness of gears and expand their knowledge andconfidence in the use of gears in machine and mechanism design.

Slightam, J. E., & Nagurka, M. L. (2015, June), Machine Design Experiments Using Gears to Foster Discovery Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24438

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