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Proposal-Based Learning for Freshman Introduction to Engineering

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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

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Mary Carpenter Ed.D. CCD - Custom Curriculum Design

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With more than thirty years’ experience in the education profession, Dr. Carpenter has a track record of managing the development of high quality, revenue impacting, blended curriculum.  A seasoned professor and corporate trainer, she has delivered valuable learning experiences to students who range in age and ability from Head Start preschoolers to doctoral candidates at one of America’s oldest universities.  As a certified Instructional Designer, she has held leadership and instructional design positions at Fortune 500 Companies where she has leveraged strong program management and communication skills, knowledge of various MLSs, and the ability to lead and collaborate with IT professionals, subject matter experts, and content developers to create and maintain revenue generating learning experiences.

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Logan Edward Micher Florida Polytechnic University

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Logan Micher was born in Southery, England, in 1996. He earned an IB Diploma in May 2012, and is currently working towards his Bachelor of Engineering degree. Logan recently developed a low-cost, programmable robot designed for intermediary robotics instruction, and held classes in which he walked students through design, prototyping, revision, manufacturing, and assembly processes. Since 2010, Logan has worked as a private tutor; most recently he has moved from small in-person tutoring into electronic classroom learning as a consultant for an online tutoring service. In previous semesters, he has aided the teaching of introductory design and modeling classes at Florida Polytechnic University. As the operator of the Florida Polytechnic University Robotics Laboratory, he trains students to use fabrication machinery, 2D and 3D design software, and analytic methods to aid in student and research projects. Logan also provides 3D modeling, prototyping, and 2D design services to various local companies, and hopes to earn certifications for 3D design in the coming months.

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Chris Yakymyshyn

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Dr. Yakymyshyn received a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering/Physics from the University of Alberta, Canada in 1984, and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. He has worked at large R&D corporations and start-ups. He was a faculty member at Montana State University and Florida Polytechnic University. He has received numerous awards, including the NSERC and Alberta Heritage scholarships, the Eta Kappa Nu outstanding young EE of the year runner-up, several teaching excellence awards and several R&D 100 awards. He has authored over 60 technical papers, one book chapter and has 37 U.S. patents. He is a senior member of IEEE and a Life member of the Optical Society of America.

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Jorge Vargas Florida Polytechnic University


Christina Drake Florida Polytechnic University

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Dr. Christina Drake is an assistant professor in the College of Engineering at Florida Polytechnic University. She is also the chair of the Florida Polytechnic Faculty Assembly and the advisor to the Women in STEM Leadership Program. Her teaching focus is in Design curriculum and her research focus is in sensor technologies.

Prior to Florida Polytechnic, Dr. Drake was a Senior Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, a post she held since 2008. Prior to that, she was a Nanotechnology Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin. She started and co-chaired the Lockheed Martin Nano-Bio working group and is the nanotechnology editor for the Industrial Biotechnology Journal. Her research interests cover novel materials and sensors based on metamaterial approaches; low-cost imagers and sensors; and biologically inspired or incorporated sensors and platforms.

She holds a doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Central Florida. Her bachelor’s degree is in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida. Her honors include the the University of Central Florida College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnae Award for Materials Science and Engineering (2013); Lockheed Martin Innovate the Future winner (2009 and 2012); the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 fellowship; the University of Central Florida graduate merit fellowship; and Blue Key Honor Society.

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Proposal-Based Learning for Freshman Introduction to Engineering

Creation and Implementation of Proposal-Based Learning in a freshman introductory engineering course is described. The course introduces project-defining skills for use in a sequence of engineering design courses taken later in the undergraduate program. Proposal-Based Learning is similar to Project-Based Learning, and is comprised of the following elements: 1) requires a response to an open-ended challenge; 2) creates a need to know essential technical, schedule and budgetary content; 3) requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new; 4) requires critical thinking and problem solving; 5) requires identifying patentable aspects of the proposed solution; 6) results in a publicly presented performance; and 7) requires interpretation of customer requirements based on sparse information. This last element was given particular emphasis, as it is often overlooked in undergraduate engineering programs, yet frequently leads to unsuccessful proposal submissions due to misreading or poor internalization of customer needs. Each student group of two to five members was required to generate a unique technical proposal in response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) supplied by the instructor. The format selected for the RFP or BAA is widely used in the engineering profession. The proposal topic choices were guided by the need to: stimulate the interest of students pursuing a variety of engineering disciplines; provide deliberately vague design constraints to introduce students to the challenge of interpreting the intentions of the RFP or BAA; encourage individual creative content in the proposed solution; and adjust the technical challenge to be accessible to students with no previous engineering courses. A preliminary design review with peers and the instructor provided valuable feedback to each group, with sufficient time allotted for design changes.

The learning outcomes were assessed using proposal quality, compliance with RFP or BAA specifications, judging by an outside panel of engineering and technology professionals, and student surveys. Several patentable concepts resulted from a total of 53 proposals responding to three RFP’s and one BAA. The challenges of implementing the instructional framework are discussed, along with recommendations for improvements.

Carpenter, M., & Micher, L. E., & Yakymyshyn, C., & Vargas, J., & Drake, C. (2016, June), Proposal-Based Learning for Freshman Introduction to Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26009

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