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Rapidly Deployable Prototyping Activities to Teach Engineering Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Practical Teaching in Manufacturing

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Paper Authors


Matthew Wettergreen Rice University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew Wettergreen is a lecturer at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. He teaches engineering design courses, including first-year engineering design and their follow on engineering design courses. Additionally he provides education via hands-on workshops and formal courses that teach students how to manufacture prototypes via low fidelity prototyping, iterative design, and the use of advanced manufacturing tools to produce high quality functioning devices.  Matthew received his Ph.D. from Rice University in Bioengineering.

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Timothy J. Hinds Michigan State University

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TIMOTHY J. HINDS is the Academic Director of the Michigan State University College of Engineering CoRe (Cornerstone Engineering and Residential) Experience program and a Senior Academic Specialist in the Department of Engineering Undergraduate Studies. His current teaching and management responsibilities include development, delivery and administration of first-year courses in engineering design and modeling. He has also taught courses in machine design, manufacturing processes, mechanics, computational tools and international product design as well as graduate-level courses in engineering innovation and technology management. He has conducted research in the areas of environmentally-responsible manufacturing, globally-distributed engineering teaming and early engineering education development and has over 30 years of combined academic and industrial management experience. He received his BSME and MSME degrees from Michigan Technological University.

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This paper describes kits that were deployed in a freshman engineering design course and used to enhance understanding of the engineering design process. In a first-year engineering design course student teams were given instructions and a kit of physical materials to work with. The instructions present a design challenge that can be solved through the creative assembly of the materials. The instructions outline rules, timing and scoring of the challenge. Each activity can be completed in as little as one hour. Brevity of the assignment forces student teams to think quickly and rapidly functionalize ideas. Student teams use the time to complete the challenge and then compete against each other with their finished product. An example of one of these challenges is tasking the teams to develop a launcher capable of transporting a ping pong ball the furthest using a collection of low fidelity materials. Scoring is based on a strength to weight ratio. The activities are designed such that student teams are most successful when they allocate time in the challenge and methodically proceed through the design process. The steps that each of these kits focus on are planning, defining the design criteria or success criteria, brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and iterating. Before and after the activity students take a survey that assesses their understanding of the engineering design process and queries how they would allocate time in a similar challenge based on the steps of the design process. We detail the student and faculty experiences and provide preliminary data from our pilot deployment of these kits. We will provide sample kits for other faculty to take home and solicit suggestions for adoption in other programs.

Wettergreen, M., & Hinds, T. J. (2016, June), Rapidly Deployable Prototyping Activities to Teach Engineering Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26036

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