Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Extant literature supports that both engineering faculty and students desire hands-on, system-level projects early on in an engineering curriculum. Additional literature supports that training engineers in design-based thinking skills is useful in building and motivating core technical skills. Resource and time restrictions, coupled with often needing extensive training through pre-requisite courses, often limit early exposure to mechatronics-style design projects, delaying them late in the engineering curriculum. In this work, we present a five-week project-based, smart systems module designed specifically for entry level (freshman or sophomore) mechanical engineering students with little or no exposure to mechatronics concepts. The experiential module is focused on building system level-design thinking skills with four supporting themes: system architecture, hardware architecture, software architecture, and integration and validation. Readily available hardware and software are used to support the module. Key innovations of the module include: 1. Organization of the course where each module’s focus is on one outcome and the outcomes in turn lead to the execution of the project. 2. Design spaces which provide an area for students to identify needs and develop system requirements 3. Logical thinking skill development through the requirement of creating flowcharts and system architecture rather than just tinkering with the code or hardware. 4. Simulation using TinkerCAD to avoid the discovery of problems during building and testing 5. System prototype to enhance testing and validation skills to create robust systems 6. Systems thinking approach to design projects from early engineering career The module was incorporated into an existing sophomore-level Mechanical Engineering course focused on design principles. There were approximately 25 mechanical engineering students in the course who were concurrently taking an introduction to electrical engineering course and have completed an introduction to computer programming course. Short lessons were delivered to students over the course of five weeks on topics including Algorithms, Basic Circuits, Arduino Basics, Communication, Digital Logic, Functions and Interrupts, Systems Design, Sensors, Servos, DC Motors, and Advanced Topics. Each lesson had a tangible outcome and a team-based activity associated with it. The outcomes and activities will be shared in detail in the manuscript. Lesson outcomes support the execution of a team-based project. Self-selected teams of three students were each given an Arduino Kit and access to TinkerCAD from which all activities and projects were based. Several student projects created using the approach are illustrated to demonstrate the level of proficiency gained by the sophomore students in five weeks. In short, the paper serves as a valuable resource for faculty wishing to implement mechatronics-based modules early in the engineering experience, sharing our curriculum, activities, hardware specifications, design spaces and teaching pedagogy for successful adoption at other institutions.
Tennison, J. L., & Gorlewicz, J. L., & Condoor, S. S. (2020, June), Project-based Smart Systems Module for Early-stage Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35099
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