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Manual Revision Process for Project-Based Laboratory Instruction

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Division Experimentation and Lab-Oriented Studies - Pedagogy of Lab Courses

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Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Gene Hou Old Dominion University

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Dr. Gene Hou is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of Old Dominion University (ODU). He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Iowa in 1983 and joined Old Dominion University since then. His expertise is in computational mechanics, multidisciplinary design optimization and system integration and risk management. He is the co-director of the Marine Dynamics Laboratory. During his tenure, he has the privilege of developing 3 new undergraduate and 6 new graduate courses in the areas related to computational methods and design.

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Feifei Zhong Southwest Jiaotong University

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Mrs. Feifei Zhong is a lecturer teaching non-English majors English in the School of Foreign Languages, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China. She received her Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Southwest Jiaotong University in 2007 and joined Southwest Jiaotong University since then. Her research interest is in effective English learning strategies. She was the first place winner of university-wise Teaching Competition in 2007 and 2013.

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Orlando M. Ayala Old Dominion University

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Dr. Ayala received his BS in Mechanical Engineering with honors (Cum Laude) from Universidad de Oriente (Venezuela) in 1995, MS in Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2005, both from University of Delaware (USA). Dr. Ayala is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Department, Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

Prior to joining ODU in 2013, Dr. Ayala spent three years as a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Delaware where he expanded his knowledge on simulation of multiphase flows while acquiring skills in high performance parallel computing and scientific computation. Before that, Dr. Ayala hold a faculty position at Universidad de Oriente at Mechanical Engineering Department where he taught and developed graduate and undergraduate courses for a number of subjects such as Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics, Multiphase Flows, Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulic Machinery, as well as Mechanical Engineering Laboratory courses.

In addition, Dr. Ayala has had the opportunity to work for a number of engineering consulting companies, which have given him an important perspective and exposure to industry. He has been directly involved in at least 20 different engineering projects related to a wide range of industries from petroleum and natural gas industry to brewing and newspaper industries. Dr. Ayala has provided service to professional organizations such as ASME. Since 2008 he has been a member of the Committee of Spanish Translation of ASME Codes and the ASME Subcommittee on Piping and Pipelines in Spanish. Under both memberships the following Codes have been translated: ASME B31.3, ASME B31.8S, ASME B31Q and ASME BPV Sections I.

While maintaining his industrial work active, his research activities have also been very active; Dr. Ayala has published 90 journal and peer-reviewed conference papers. His work has been presented in several international forums in Austria, USA, Venezuela, Japan, France, Mexico, and Argentina. Dr. Ayala has an average citation per year of all his published work of 33.25.

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Hands-on laboratories have long been embedded in regular engineering curriculum, which are mostly designed to enhance basic knowledge of students learnt from fundamental courses taught in the sophomore or early junior years. Laboratory manuals of these courses for most part serve as instruction manuals detailing the procedures to guide students conducting the experiments. Students are mainly responsible to present the collected data in the forms of tables or graphs and correlate them to the particular theory, hypothesis or model they have learnt from the regular classes. Efforts have been made recently though to improve learning effectiveness by using the framework of Legacy Cycle [ Yalvac, et al. 2006, Rahcel, 2014, Watai, et al, 2005] and designing technology-enriched content by using multimedia [ Burewixa and Miranowicz, 2006] or pre-laboratory e-learning lessons [Gautam, et al. 2016]. New types of laboratory courses have recently been developed and introduced in many upper level engineering curriculum. They are emerged from the needs of growing and ever changing technologies and industries, such as cybersecurity, alternative energy and drones, etc. These types of laboratory classes are project-based and inquiry-oriented. Students in these classes are imposed with responsibilities to acquire and learn new concept and new knowledge. They have to be able to alter the experimental procedures for the sake of exploration and exploitation. Thus, the audience, the objective and the content of the laboratory manuals that support these new types of laboratory classes are quite different from the traditional ones. Furthermore, these laboratory manuals have to be updated frequently to match with the advances in technology, hardware and software. This paper aims to develop manual preparation guidelines to support these new types of laboratory classes. This is done based upon the technical writing process as it is believed by the authors that writing is an integration of critical thinking and active learning [Piirto, 1996, Bean, 2011]. Particularly, the key elements of the proposed guidelines are outlined hereafter; • understanding the objectives and the audience of the class [ Harrington and Nakhiel, 2003] • examining the Hierarchical Task Diagram [Girault, et al. 2012] of the entire experiment procedure to understand the difficulties encountered by the students to reach the stated objectives. • using proper technology to enhance learning • providing low-stakes, exploratory exercises to build the concepts and knowledge • providing directions and devising sub-tasks to build for one formal class project • using peer review and reflection to enhance learning interaction • developing rubrics to measure the student learning outcomes

The revised laboratory manual of a senior elective class, MAE 441 Computer-Aided Engineering will be used to investigate the effectiveness of these developed guidelines. The class is with three credit hours. The main learning outcome of the class is an ability to identify and formulate an engineering problem and to design a solution process using modern engineering tools. The class meets 75 minutes for lecture in each week and another one for laboratory session. No textbook is used in this class. The major teaching material is the laboratory manual. In the first part of the semester, the class teaches students the syntax of commercially rated finite element software, NASTRAN and PATRAN, enabling them to build a finite element model and interpret the associated output. The second part of the semester is devoted to a class project which requires students to test and analyze a steel bridge under the given load, shown in Figure 1. Students have to justify their numerical results by comparing them with testing data so as to build confidence about their use of NASTRAN and PATRAN. A formal technical report and an oral presentation are required for students to document their experience and defend their conclusions. Sixty-one students are currently enrolled in the class. Two TAs are assigned to the class to helping out the laboratory sessions. The implementation details of these guidelines to MAE 441 will be presented in the full length paper, along with feedbacks and evaluation collected from students.

Hou, G., & Zhong, F., & Ayala, O. M. (2017, June), Manual Revision Process for Project-Based Laboratory Instruction Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28649

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