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Project-based learning modules for an introductory engineering course scaled for different learning modalities

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

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August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Haritha Malladi University of Delaware

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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.

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Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

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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.

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This is a Great Ideas for Teaching, and Talking with, Students (GIFTS) paper. Systems thinking, spatial visualization, and data analysis are technical skills that are important across different disciplines in engineering. Additionally, abilities to collaborate effectively in teams and to synthesize and communicate technical information are key “durable skills” in student professional development. Introductory engineering courses that emphasize these concepts serve incoming engineering students well in their undergraduate and professional careers. This paper describes the structure of a one-semester introductory engineering course that incorporates two modules for project-based learning, whose learning outcomes focus on improving these technical and durable skills. The first module is a mechanically oriented product design that incorporates physical prototyping. Students worked in teams to develop a three-dimensional model that can be assembled using parts that were laser-cut from a single 8x10 sheet of wood. The second module focuses on performing life cycle assessment to compare the environmental impacts of common consumer goods. Student teams picked two common product choices and created an inventory of inputs and outputs across all life cycle stages for both products. They performed a streamlined analysis to determine which product consumed fewer resources and/or released fewer emissions. These modules were implemented in a completely online format in Fall 2020 to adhere to social-distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. These modules are expected to be delivered in an in-person or hybrid model in Fall 2021. The paper also describes how these two modules can be modified for online-only, in-person, or hybrid delivery and scaled to suit varying class enrollments.

Malladi, H., & Buckley, J. (2021, August), Project-based learning modules for an introductory engineering course scaled for different learning modalities Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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