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Providing Early Design/Build Opportunities To Freshman Engineering Students

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Teaming Skills Through Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.960.1 - 7.960.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Steve York

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

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Session 2525


Steven C. York and Katharine Davenport Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Teamwork is crucial to the success of any large engineering project. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and employers have stressed the importance of incorporating teamwork skills within the engineering curriculum. At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, this is being implemented using a series of hands-on and early-design projects during the freshman year. As part of the on- going implementation of these activities at Virginia Tech, we have recently introduced a series of design/build projects for freshman student teams that are centered on a standardized kit of tools and materials dubbed the “MacGyver box”. This program has been piloted with approximately 300 students during the fall semester of 2001 and is to be fully implemented into the Virginia Tech freshman engineering class by fall of 2002. This initiative has been well received by students, and offers an engaging and instructive method to introduce students to design, engineering economy, and the dynamics of teamwork.

Teams of four students are issued a MacGyver box, briefly introduced to the design process, and assigned projects to complete throughout the semester. For each project the student teams are given design criteria, instructed to develop several design alternatives, and then to select and build their best design. Only the tools and materials contained in the teams’ MacGyver box may be used for construction. The limited availability of materials provides specific design challenges to the students and allows a unique means of control for the instructor. Several project assignments are given over the course of the semester and no replacement parts are allowed.

This paper will discuss the development and implementation of the MacGyver box program from conception through implementation. Specific topics include the procurement of funding, the MacGyver box inventory, the projects themselves, and the scale-up of the pilot program. The paper will also address responses from students and lessons learned during program implementation.

Main Menu Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition CopyrightÓ 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

York, S. (2002, June), Providing Early Design/Build Opportunities To Freshman Engineering Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10419

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