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Nine Years Of Freshman Design Projects At Mercer University

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.307.1 - 2.307.7



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Joan A. Burtner

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

Session 2553

Nine Years of Freshman Design Projects at Mercer University

Joan A. Burtner Mercer University

Introduction For the past nine years, the Mercer University School of Engineering has required freshman engineering students to enroll in a three-quarter freshman engineering sequence: EGR 101, 102, and 103. In EGR 101 and EGR 102 students are taught basic visualization skills and engineering drawing techniques. They learn to use WordPerfect, Lotus 123, and AutoCAD. They work in teams to deliver a brief oral presentation on a technical topic. In EGR 103, the students build on the skills they learned in EGR 101 and EGR 102 in order to design, build and test a simple device. The focus of this paper is an evaluation of a number of the projects that have been used in the EGR 103 design course.

Course Description The overall objective of EGR 103 is to introduce engineering students to the design process. In this class, students form teams and work together to design a simple device which meets the needs expressed by a client. The client, who is usually not the course instructor, describes the project and approves designs. The course instructor lectures on various aspects of the design process, defines project milestones, monitors the teams’ progress and assigns grades. Although the teams must produce a working prototype, the emphasis is on the process rather than the product. During the first half of the course, teams work together to define the problem, develop alternative solutions, define merit criteria, and propose a solution. At the midterm Preliminary Design Review, the teams present their solution and request permission to begin building their prototype. Near the end of the quarter, the teams present the Critical Design Review in which they discuss the building and testing of the prototype. In order to make the process more realistic, students are given a budget. The school reimburses the students for the money they spend on the project, up to a pre-determined maximum (usually around $30). Teams do not receive permission to proceed to the building phase if their design exceeds the budgeted amount.

Design Project History EGR 103 was first offered in 1988. During the early years, we offered a large variety of design projects. Since we used faculty and staff volunteers as clients, this allowed some clients to work with as many (or as few) teams as they wished. Thus more people were willing to volunteer if they were able to limit their involvement to one or two teams. Most of the projects were designed to be used in the School of Engineering. However a small number of projects were designed for handicapped children from area schools.

Burtner, J. A. (1997, June), Nine Years Of Freshman Design Projects At Mercer University Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6711

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