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Project-based Learning in a Forensic Engineering Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Efforts in Upper-level Courses

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mansoor Nasir Lawrence Technological University

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Dr. Mansoor Nasir received his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of California-Berkeley. He worked as a research scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. before joining the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. He has several publications in the areas of microfluidics, chemical and biological sensors, and MEMS technology. He is also passionate about engineering pedagogy. He has not only published articles on engineering education but has also led several workshops on using instructional methodologies that make classroom instruction more engaging and effective.

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Eric G Meyer Lawrence Technological University

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Dr. Meyer directs the Experimental Biomechanics Laboratory (EBL) at LTU with the goal of advancing experimental biomechanics understanding. Dr. Meyer teaches Introduction to Biomechanics, Tissue Mechanics, Engineering Applications in Orthopedics, and Foundations of Medical Imaging. He has been an active member of the engineering faculty committee that has redesigned the Foundations of Engineering Design Projects course that is required for all freshmen in the College of Engineering at LTU. This committee is currently designing a new sophomore-level Engineering Entrepreneurship Studio that will also be required for all students as a continuation of the “Foundations Studio.” He has published 33 peer-reviewed journal and conference proceeding articles. At LTU, Meyer offers a number of outreach programs for high school students and advises many projects for undergraduate students.

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Brian Thomas Weaver PE Explico Engineering Co.

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Mr. Weaver received a B.S. and M.S. in Engineering Mechanics with a specialization in Biomechanics at Michigan State University. He worked for Exponent Failure Analysis Associates in the Biomechanics group for over 10 years. In this capacity he was primarily responsible for performing Injury Causation analyses and Accident Reconstruction in the context of civil and criminal litigation. He founded and is the President of Explico Engineering Company. Mr. Weaver continues to work in the field of Forensic Engineering with a specialization in Biomechanics and Accident Reconstruction. He continues to conduct research and publish on injury mechanisms with both the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratories at Michigan State University and with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. Mr. Weaver is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University and holds a seat on the Academic Advisory Board.

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Forensic Engineering is a multidisciplinary field which focuses on the art and science of engineering in the jurisprudence system [1]. The responsibilities include not only an investigation into the physical and technical causes of an accident but also the gathering of evidence, summarizing opinions in a report and providing testimony related to the case. The nature of the profession lends itself to instruction through projects and case studies. A quick survey of forensic engineering courses shows that most are taught at the graduate level in civil engineering departments with an emphasis on failure mode of facilities and transportation infrastructure [2].

Faculty at XXXXXXX University, in collaboration with a forensic engineer have co-taught an upper-level undergraduate forensic engineering course biennially through the biomedical engineering department. The course is unique because it does not specifically deal with a particular area of practice but rather focuses on the investigation and litigation process that forensic engineers follow in their profession. The involvement from a forensic engineer as the adjunct faculty allows for scheduling of various other forensic engineers from different areas of practice, as speakers during the course. The results is a multidisciplinary course that covers a range of topics such as biomechanics of accident injury, failure of implants, human factors, accident reconstruction, fire/explosions and civil structures. Case studies are presented in each lecture and students learn how these investigations contribute to the law, engineering design, safety, and economics.

The activities and course structure is specifically designed to develop skills that are necessary for careers beyond forensic engineering, which include the application of the scientific method, deductive and inductive reasoning, organization of facts, forming of opinions and specifying bases for opinions. A key component is to practice the effective oral and written communication, manage client relations, and project management. Each lecture includes a presentation which is followed by a hands-on activity pertaining to the area of discussion. Students have three main projects that include the investigation of a crashed car and an the claimed injury, summarizing the evidence of an actual forensic case and a final project that requires the complete investigation and litigation process of a mock accident situation. Student feedback from the previous first offering was extremely positive. The exact activities have also been modified to encourage student participation and engagement in classroom.

References [1] Carper, K. L. (Ed.). (2000). Forensic engineering. CRC Press. [2] Delatte, N. J., & Rens, K. L. (2002). Forensics and case studies in civil engineering education: State of the art. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 16(3), 98-109.

Nasir, M., & Meyer, E. G., & Weaver, B. T. (2016, June), Project-based Learning in a Forensic Engineering Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25980

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