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Method And Experimental Based Design: An Approach To Freshman And Sophomore Engineering Design Projects

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.720.1 - 6.720.9

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Jeffrey Mountain

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

Session 2525

Method and Experimental Based Design: An Approach to Freshman and Sophomore Engineering Design Projects

Jeffrey R. Mountain The University of Texas at Tyler


The benefits of group-based design activity in an engineering curriculum may be greatly enriched by careful structuring of design activities into the freshman/sophomore introductory course sequence. Focal points of this approach include: teaching a design methodology, applying that methodology to unique, product development-based problems and guiding students through discovery based experimental work to provide hard data upon which design decisions may be based. Project evaluation is focused primarily on written reports detailing the design process, and oral presentations defending the design decisions, rather than the level of success for a specific design solution. This paper presents the design project activity designed into a freshman/sophomore sequence of courses required of engineering students at The University of Texas at Tyler. The design methodology is outlined, and several projects are detailed. Examples of experimental work, and simplified analytical procedures, are presented, illustrating how project-relevant data are used to support project design decisions. Some innovative student “solutions” are presented, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses of this approach to introductory engineering design education. Rapid prototyping as a strategy to integrate the Product Realization Process into our introductory engineering curriculum is discussed. The next evolution of the course sequence, intended to both streamline and improve the design experience, is also presented.

I. Introduction

Beginning in the fall semester of 1998, The University of Texas at Tyler became established as a full, four-year university. This included admission of freshmen engineering students into the year old School of Engineering. One of the foundation principles of the expanding UT-Tyler engineering program was full, four-year contact with the incoming engineering freshmen by designing a three-semester, Fundamentals of Engineering course sequence common to both the Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs of the School of Engineering. The intent of the sequence is to introduce fundamental engineering skills and provide group based, design project activities while permitting interaction between students and engineering faculty during each semester that a student is in the program. This paper will outline the structure of the course sequence, describe the design activity sequence for a group of freshmen/sophomore students and describe the experience of the next iteration of activities and lessons learned from this approach to introductory design education.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Mountain, J. (2001, June), Method And Experimental Based Design: An Approach To Freshman And Sophomore Engineering Design Projects Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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