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Project Based Freshman Engineering Experience: The Core Course

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Administering First-Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

15.994.1 - 15.994.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/15729

Download Count

81

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Paper Authors

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Robert Caverly Villanova University

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Dr. Caverly is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to teaching the freshman engineering experience, he also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in electromagnetics and RF and microwave engineering. He is the author of the book 'CMOS RFIC Design Principles'.

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Howard Fulmer Villanova University

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Prof. Fulmer is an Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has taught a variety of classes, including Freshman-level Engineering (Analysis, Computation, Graphics, Interdisciplinary Projects I/II), Senior-level Technical Literature Investigation in Chemical Engineering, and Junior- and Senior-level Mechanical Engineering labs including Composites, Critical Speeds of Whirling Shafts, Hardness, and Beam Deflection.

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Sridhar Santhanam Villanova University

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Dr. Santhanam is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has taught a variety of classes in mechanics, design, manufacturing, and materials. His primary research interests are in the use of mechanics to model material behavior and manufacturing processes.

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James O’Brien Villanova University

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Prof. ⁏Brien is a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is the Coordinator for the New Freshman Program.

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Gerard Jones Villanova University

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Dr. Jones is Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he has taught courses in heat transfer, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, computational fluid mechanics, and solar thermal analysis. Currently, he serves as associate dean for the 900-student undergraduate engineering program. His recent service-learning work on analysis and design of gravity-driven water networks has produced a textbook to be published by Wiley later this year.

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Edward Char Villanova University

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Prof. Char is an Instructor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He currently teaches Digital Logic, Computer Architecture, and Computer Networks among other classes.

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Frank Mercede Villanova University

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Dr. Mercede, P.E. has been a full-time instructor in Electrical Engineering since 1988 and has served on the Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty at Villanova University since 1996. Dr. Mercede has published and consulted in the areas of power system protection and power quality.

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Pritpal Singh Villanova University

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Dr. Singh is Professor and Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Villanova University. He teaches courses in semiconductor devices, electronics, and renewable energy and his research areas include solar cells, battery monitoring systems and electric vehicles.

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Randy Weinstein Villanova University

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Dr. Weinstein is the Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and program director of the Sustainable Engineering Master's program. He is currently investigating heat transfer using nanomaterials, supercritical fluids, and the conversion of biomass to energy.

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Joseph Yost Villanova University

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Dr. Yost, P.E. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
and teaches graduate and undergraduate
courses in structural mechanics and design. He is also a registered
Professional Engineer and the structural engineer of record for many
highway and railroad bridges in the Northeast region of the US.

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

Project-Based Freshmen Engineering Experience: The Core Course

Abstract

Villanova University has embarked on a new project-based approach for the required first year engineering experience. The two-semester sequence is divided into four ½ semester blocks with the first ½ semester block being the Core Course; this paper focuses on this first block. The Core Course is intended to cover material germane to the 5 engineering programs available at Villanova University (chemical, civil and environmental, computer, electrical and mechanical). This paper focuses on three major topic points: A discussion on the motivation for the change in the freshman engineering experience; Lecture details that take a geographically (and internationally) diverse set of freshman from different school systems and different learning backgrounds and provides the university-level engineering background that will enable them to successfully complete the mini-projects in the remaining three blocks in the sequence; and Project details (both pedagogy and logistics) used in this first block to aid in student’s understanding of the engineering method, the collection and interpretation of data, and the presentation of this data

Introduction and Motivation

Villanova University has embarked on a new project-based approach for the required first year engineering experience. This project-based course sequence was deemed a practical approach to of end-of-course surveys as well as input from a number of freshmen and sophomore focus groups over the 2006-2008 time frame. These studies indicated that students felt that the previous freshmen engineering experience could provide a better introduction to the various engineering disciplines offered at Villanova University. The studies also indicated that the current previous freshmen engineering experience (a single course in each of the Fall and Spring semesters) was not as effective as it could be. In some cases, the sequence lacked relevance to current engineering problems and practice. The semester project in the fall course was either too challenging or not challenging enough for too many of our students. The previous freshman engineering courses were taught by faculty from the Mechanical Engineering department; besides a large project, the Fall course introduced the students to AutoCAD and SolidWorks, and for orientation and to stimulate interest in the engineering profession, had lectures and laboratory exercises on the five engineering programs offered at the university. The spring course focused on programming (MATLAB, Mathcad, and Excel) and problem solving. While the college enjoys an overall retention rate (freshman to sophomore year) consistently averaging over 80% (Figure 1), it was still felt that improving the freshman engineering experience would keep this rate at a high level, while at the same time providing a more relevant education for the freshman, and would also improve the slightly lower retention rate for underrepresented groups (the university has a common freshman year where student arrive undeclared and choose their major during the middle of the Spring semester).

Caverly, R., & Fulmer, H., & Santhanam, S., & O’Brien, J., & Jones, G., & Char, E., & Mercede, F., & Singh, P., & Weinstein, R., & Yost, J. (2010, June), Project Based Freshman Engineering Experience: The Core Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15729

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