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Multi Course Design Project Creates Ties Between Various Mechanical Engineering Topics

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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

6.731.1 - 6.731.12

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Paper Authors

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Terry Derossett

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Steven Nesbit

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Scott Hummel

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


In a typical undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum, students take a wide variety

of engineering courses from the basic categories of design, analysis, and laboratory, for example

strength of materials, mechanical design, manufacturing, thermo-fluids and instrumentation

among others. All too often, students compartmentalize their courses, failing to see the

relationship between topics taught in different courses. In an effort to reduce this

compartmentalization and increase overall knowledge and skill integration, a multi-course

project was developed. The project requires the students to design, analyze, manufacture,

instrument, and evaluate a load cell. The courses directly involved in the project are Mechanical

Design, Manufacturing, and Instrumentation, although many other courses were indirectly

involved. These three courses are taken concurrently during the first semester of the junior year.

Working in groups of two or three, students perform different aspects of the project in each

course over a four-week period. In addition to fundamental design and analysis methods, several

engineering software packages are integrated into the design and analysis of the load cell

including Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), finite

element analysis (FEA), and digital data acquisition system. The current version of the project

has gone through two cycles with outstanding results. All of the student groups were successful

in completing the project. The student reaction to the project was positive and they indicated that

the project caused them to see the ties between the three courses that otherwise would have been

somewhat disconnected. This paper discusses the project philosophy, the load cell design, the

integration of course topics, and the specific design, analysis, and software techniques necessary

to create the project. In addition, student reactions and experiences are presented and strategies

for expanding the project to other courses are discussed.


Derossett, T., & Nesbit, S., & Hummel, S. (2001, June), Multi Course Design Project Creates Ties Between Various Mechanical Engineering Topics Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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