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Participation Of Experienced Students In Introducing Freshman Students To Engineering Experimentation

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.438.1 - 3.438.6



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Paper Authors

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Ron Bailey

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Richard DeBlasio

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David Freeman

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Rommel Simpson

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Devdas Pai

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

Session 1326

Participation of Experienced Students in Introducing Freshman Students to Engineering Experimentation Devdas Pai1, Rommel Simpson1, Ron Bailey1, David Freeman1 and Richard DeBlasio2 1 NC A&T State University / 2Aluminum Company of America

Abstract Experimental measurements and data analysis are a key component of the suite of skills that all engineering students must acquire during their undergraduate studies. However, traditional curricula steer engineering students first to labs in the basic sciences such as physics and chemistry. Engineering labs are not introduced until the sophomore year; sometimes, even later. In this paper, the authors describe a novel collaborative effort between freshmen students and more-experienced students (sophomore, senior and graduate students), in developing an experiment of relevance to industry and commerce. The experienced students collaborated in developing the test apparatus and test procedures. Then they mentored the freshmen in conducting the test, collecting data, analyzing the results and generating recommendations.

The objective of this experiment was to measure the greatest height from which aluminum beverage cans may be dropped without appreciable damage to the can structure. The project was divided into different tasks, and the tasks distributed to three classes in various engineering curriculums. Tasks were assigned based on course emphases; to allow students to apply their course work. One class graphically designed the testing system. The second class manufactured the testing system and provided a prototype. The freshman class was assigned the task of testing the cans and analyzing the results. It provided for a vertically integrated learning experience, where experienced students were able to demonstrate to less-experienced students on how their use of the tools and skills has progressively grown more sophisticated.

Rationale The concept of vertical integration relates to streamlining an entire curriculum so that there is a tangible connection between pre-requisite and follow-on courses. This has been achieved at many schools by cooperative planning between faculty members. This idea of vertical integration has been extended in the Mechanical Engineering curriculum at North Carolina A&T State University (Pai et al., 1997) to include concepts of mentoring and cooperative learning. Past research (Dale, 1969) has proven the efficacy of active learning, where the students experience a simulation of the real thing. Felder (1992), and Felder and Brent (1996) provide insight into the structuring of team activities and student-centered teaching. Evans et al., (1996), have applied the team-learning approach for an applied physics freshman curriculum with the use of team-based lab exercises. McDonald et al., (1996), have demonstrated the receptiveness of senior level students to industry-generated senior-level design courses. Mahajan and McDonald (1997) have developed an integrated laboratory sequence. In this paper, we are attempting to demonstrate how we have synthesized these excellent concepts into a hands-on experience of value to the entering freshman students. The rest of this paper discusses our approach to this problem, the implementation of our approach, and student feedback and perceptions of our efforts to date.

Bailey, R., & DeBlasio, R., & Freeman, D., & Simpson, R., & Pai, D. (1998, June), Participation Of Experienced Students In Introducing Freshman Students To Engineering Experimentation Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7332

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