Asee peer logo

Novel Hands-on Product-design Module for Online, Large-enrollment FYE Courses

Download Paper |

Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

The Best of First-year Programs Division

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37527

Download Count

54

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

visit author page

Dr. Buckley is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor’s of Engineering (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and her MS (2004) and PhD (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics. Since 2006, her research efforts have focused on the development and mechanical evaluation of medical and rehabilitation devices, particularly orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pediatric devices. She teaches courses in design, biomechanics, and mechanics at University of Delaware and is heavily involved in K12 engineering education efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

visit author page

biography

Haritha Malladi University of Delaware

visit author page

Haritha Malladi is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of First-Year Engineering at University of Delaware, Newark, DE. She is passionate about undergraduate education and teaches the first-year experience course incoming class students in the College of Engineering at UD. She obtained her Bachelor of Technology degree in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India. She earned her Master of Science and doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University in the USA. Her disciplinary research interests lie in the area of sustainability in asphalt pavements using material considerations, green technologies, and efficient pavement preservation techniques. Her doctoral work focused on improving the performance of recycled asphalt pavements using warm mix asphalt additives. As a postdoctoral scholar at North Carolina State University, she worked on several NCDOT sponsored research projects including developing specifications for crack sealant application and performing field measurements of asphalt emulsion application in tack coats and chip seals. Her undergraduate teaching experience includes foundational engineering mechanics courses like statics and strength of materials as well as courses related to sustainability and infrastructure. Alongside teaching, she is passionate about science communication and public involvement in science. She has been invited to conduct several workshops on communicating technical concepts to different target audiences. She is interested in incorporating data-driven research, citizen science, and experiential learning into teaching and outreach.

visit author page

biography

Amy Trauth University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5146-592X

visit author page

Amy Trauth, Ph.D., is Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware and Science Instructional Specialist at New Castle County Vo-Tech School District in Wilmington, DE. In her role, Amy works collaboratively with secondary science teachers to develop and implement standards-based curricula and assessments. She also provides mentoring, coaching and co-teaching support to secondary science teachers across the entire trajectory of the profession. Her research focuses on teacher education, classroom assessment, and P-16 environmental and engineering education.

visit author page

biography

Marcia Gail Headley University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3017-2834

visit author page

Dr. Headley is a Research Associate III at the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware. She specializes in the development of mixed methods research designs and strategies for integrating quantitative and qualitative research approaches. She is the recipient of the 2017 American Education Research Association (AERA) Mixed Methods SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award. Her methodological work has been published in the prestigious Journal of Mixed Method Research. Dr. Headley is devoted to designing effective research studies with the potential to generate well-justified answers to complex questions about how students learn given variations in their health, homes, classrooms, and schools.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a novel hands-on engineering design module that was administered in an entirely online format in a large-enrollment First-Year Experience (FYE) engineering course. Engineering design principles and processes are foundational concepts across the engineering disciplines and are frequently included as key learning objectives in FYE engineering courses. Product design challenges, in particular, have been found to be well aligned with FYE course objectives because they can be scaled to rely on secondary education-level physical science concepts and intrinsically reinforce durable skills such as spatial visualization, end-user centered design, and technical documentation. Although the product design process can culminate in either a physical or virtual prototype (i.e., “paper design”), hands-on fabrication of a physical prototype has been shown to: (1) improve basic engineering skills, viz. spatial visualization; (2) increase student interest and retention in the discipline; and (3) prepare students for the engineering workforce. There are substantial logistical and pedagogical challenges to implementing hands-on engineering design curricula in FYE courses—these issues are only compounded in large-enrollment courses with limited direct faculty oversight. The added complexity of offering hands-on learning opportunities in a completely online instructional setting during the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably led many instructors to pivot to a paper design model in large-enrollment FYE courses. In this paper, we introduce a novel hands-on, mechanically-oriented product design module that is compatible with large-enrollment FYE courses being taught in a completely online setting. This module addresses persistent financial, materials, and student safety constraints that are inherent to all large-enrollment FYE courses while also presenting students with a scalable engineering challenge that addresses common learning objectives of FYE engineering courses.

The learning objectives for our novel team-based, hands-on product design challenge are: (1) to apply principles of simple machines and conservation of energy; (2) to improve spatial visualization skills through conversion of 2D to 3D design; and (3) to persist through one full engineering design cycle in developing and testing a functional prototype. The project was inspired by a line of commercially available wooden mechanical models (UGears®). These models are entirely composed of parts that are laser-cut from thin sheets of wood (3 mm thick birch), and most product designs incorporate gear, linkage, and other simple machine components. With permission from the company, the module involved students designing a new model for the UGears® product line that specifically targeted the college market. Instructor-imposed design constraints included: (1) a tight material budget (8x10 inch sheet of ⅛” thick plywood); (2) minimum number of simple machine types; and (3) required input and output machine characteristics.

At the beginning of the semester, students were mailed a course material packet that included several small UGears® models and a custom-designed, laser-cut common components board with pre-defined gears, axles, and machine frames. Over an 8-week period, students worked in teams of 3-5 and were guided through a four-phase design process (Definition, Concepts, Detailed Design, Validation) via weekly scaffolded team assignments. The initial assignments focused on user-centered research and concept generation. This was followed by a four-week module on machine design that utilized the common components board to introduce simple machine types, conservation of energy and mechanical advantage, and the details of fits and tolerances necessary to design their own laser-cut frame. Student teams then designed their own model using either 2D (Inkscape) or 3D (SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor) software. The project culminated in teams submitting their final design files to be laser cut using on-campus facilities. Prototypes were then mailed back to student teams for design validation.

This module was implemented in Fall 2020 in a large-enrollment (~650 students) FYE engineering course at a state university in the US. Material, manufacturing, and shipping costs for the project were $8.50 per student, and this included equipment usage and labor charges for on-campus laser cutters. The complete project curriculum, along with supplemental design files and instructional materials, will be presented in the full length paper. Also included in the full-length paper will be a formative evaluation of the first year implementation of this project. The evaluation will compare student outcomes common group assignments from UGears® verus similar projects from face-to-face versions of the course in prior years. Student focus group and survey data will also be presented using validated instruments from prior work by our research team. The curricula and results presented in this study will be valuable for other institutions who are presently struggling to maintain hands-on learning experiences in FYE engineering courses, particularly during mandated online instructional periods.

Buckley, J., & Malladi, H., & Trauth, A., & Headley, M. G. (2021, July), Novel Hands-on Product-design Module for Online, Large-enrollment FYE Courses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37527

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015