Asee peer logo

Rapid Prototyping As An Instructional Tool To Enhance Learning

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engaging Students in Learning

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1013.1 - 15.1013.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Amir Salehpour University of Cincinnati

author page

Sam Antoline University of Cincinnati

Download Paper |

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

Rapid Prototyping as an Instructional Tool to Enhance Learning


It is widely known that students tend to learn best by active participation. The least effective method of learning is listening, with observation falling in-between. When students are exposed to concepts through multiple paths it should enhance their overall learning. Rapid prototyping can be an additional tool for the instructor to enhance student learning.

Traditional methods of instruction in Strength of Materials courses involve explanation of theory and reinforcement of the underlying concepts through laboratory demonstration and homework problems. Some of the other techniques used to supplement these methods typically focus on visualization through computer animation. This paper describes an attempt at integration of these methods with rapid prototyping as an instructional tool for one section of students in order to enhance their understanding of concepts. It is anticipated that future students in all sections of the Strength of Materials course will experience this improvement to their learning process.

Several hands-on experiments were developed to enhance the student’s understanding of theory. Students were given problems from their textbooks and then they were asked to created 3-D models. These models were then fabricated on an in-house rapid prototyping machine. Students performed the experiments on their models and compared the results to the calculated results. Initial feedback from the students has revealed that modeling, fabricating, and testing some of the textbook problems enhanced their learning of the concepts. This provided a relevant transfer of skills for the students from solid modeling to physical problem solving. An additional benefit of this technique is exposure of the students to the design process early in their curriculum.


There is a large amount of work in the literature addressing different means of effective teaching. Most of the literature that deals with effective teaching indicates that active learning is an acceptable strategy to enhance student learning. In teaching, it is our responsibility to present certain tasks or activities with the intention of inducing learning. In light of this, it is essential to teach the subject matter in a way that maximizes student learning. It is our intention to create this environment by adopting certain instructional strategies to achieve this goal.

Michael Prince1 et al. has made an extensive review of the literature to address the question: Does Active Learning Work? He has defined Active Learning Terminologies that are used in literature among different authors. In general, Active Learning is defined as any teaching method that engages students in real meaningful learning activities that make them think deeply about what they are doing2. Typically, there are several techniques that are adopted to implement active learning in instruction, namely Collaborative, Cooperative, and Problem-Based Learning (PBL).

Among these accepted active learning styles, PBL has been growing in recent years and has become an acceptable instructional strategy in engineering education3. This trend is also evident

Salehpour, A., & Antoline, S. (2010, June), Rapid Prototyping As An Instructional Tool To Enhance Learning Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16784

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015