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Practical Application Of Fea In Freshman Design Using Senior Student Mentors

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Using IT to Enhance Design Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.927.1 - 7.927.9



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Paper Authors

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Richard Harwood

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David Shaw

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Session 1625

Practical Application of FEA in Freshman Design using Senior Student Mentors

David W. Shaw, Richard F. Harwood Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania


This paper presents the results of three years of work on an innovative means of addressing several important aspects of the Freshman Design course (EGR 101). In an effort to address the balance of teaching engineering design and decision skills with new technical skills, freshman design teams were paired with senior engineering students taking the Finite Element Analysis course (MEE405). Data were collected using surveys during and following the multi-week project to assess the effectiveness of the interactions and the acquisition of technical skills by the freshmen and the development of applied leadership skills by the seniors.

Key anticipated benefits of the interaction for the freshmen were contact with upperclassmen, exposure to modern engineering software tools and analysis techniques, practical experience in fabricating engineered products from drawings, realistic application of engineering design and decision tools and theories, and enhanced oral and written communication skills. For the seniors, the anticipated benefits were practical practice in leadership and teamwork and application of theory to practical design problems.

Most of these benefits were realized at some level of success, including the identification of some senior students who had not yet developed independent leadership skills Additional unanticipated benefits for the freshmen included a basic understanding of Mohr's circle and stress transformations one year prior to formal introduction to those topics. The seniors were also forced to integrate their knowledge of FEA, failure mechanisms, and the results of mechanical testing.


The Introduction to Engineering class (EGR101) at Geneva College is a design and decision- making oriented course which is generally taken during a student's first semester in college. The catalog description provides a clear, if terse, summary of the objectives.

Introduction to engineering design and decision-making. Christian world-view applied to engineering. Use of logic, experimental design and design criteria. Project oriented.

"Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education"

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Harwood, R., & Shaw, D. (2002, June), Practical Application Of Fea In Freshman Design Using Senior Student Mentors Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10212

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