Asee peer logo

Redesigning an Introductory Mechanics Course to Include Meaningful Design Experiences

Download Paper |


2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED)

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Damon Kirkpatrick U.S. Air Force Academy

visit author page

Captain Damon Kirkpatrick is the Executive Officer and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He teaches Statics and Mechanics of Materials and Thermodynamics to more than 100 cadets every year.

Capt Kirkpatrick commissioned in 2016 as a Distinguished Graduate of USAFA. Before his assignment at USAFA, he was the Space Vehicle Attitude Control and Propulsion Lead Engineer in the Global Positioning System Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base, contributing to the acquisition of next generation advanced satellites.

visit author page


Michael Anderson U.S. Air Force Academy

visit author page

Lt Col Mike Anderson is Associate Professor and Deputy Department Head of Engineering Mechanics, US Air Force Academy. He has been researching autonomous systems for fourteen years, authoring several papers relevant to the field including design of terres

visit author page


Phillip Cornwell U.S. Airforce Academy

visit author page

Phillip Cornwell is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy and is an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989 and his present interests include structural dynamics, structural health monitoring, and undergraduate engineering education. Dr. Cornwell has received an SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in 1992, and the Dean’s Outstanding Teacher award at Rose-Hulman in 2000 and the Rose-Hulman Board of Trustee’s Outstanding Scholar Award in 2001. He was one of the developers of the Rose-Hulman Sophomore Engineering Curriculum, the Dynamics Concept Inventory, and he is a co-author of Vector Mechanics for Engineers: Dynamics, by Beer, Johnston, Cornwell, and Self. In 2019 Dr. Cornwell received the Archie Higdon Distinguished Educator Award from the Mechanics Division of ASEE.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The ______ is a commissioning source ______, and as such, it strives to provide each graduate a well-rounded undergraduate education, grounded in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum, in addition to military officership training to help each student prepare to become a leader in ______ immediately following their graduation. Mechanical Engineering 220 – Fundamentals of Mechanics (ME 220) is one of many STEM courses that all students, both engineering and non-engineering majors, are required to take. The curriculum focuses on statics and mechanics of materials. This course plays two key roles in the overall curriculum at ______. It is a required, or core, course and is most often the second of five engineering courses that every student is required to take, usually during their sophomore year. It is also the foundational course for students pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering or in Civil and Environmental Engineering. In its role as a core course, ME 220 is expected to satisfy certain institutional learning outcomes, specifically how to apply engineering methods; design methodology in particular. In the recent past, the course had fallen short in meeting several institutional outcomes. In a series of conversations and meetings, the department faculty and leadership specified the various deficiencies in the course with respect to meeting these outcomes, the most prominent of which was the lack of curriculum dedicated to teaching and practicing engineering design. To better achieve these outcomes, the course was redesigned during the summer of 2021. Three experimental sections of this course were taught to randomly assigned students during the Summer session and during the Fall semester of 2021. Ultimately, the new course design was fully adopted and was taught by 7 instructors to approximately 400 students in 17 sections during the Spring 2022 semester. With minor refinements to the course syllabus and projects after the Spring 2022 semester, the curriculum for ME 220 has stabilized and will continue to be taught with these meaningful design experiences into the future. A critical piece of the redesign is a new final project that is centered on a design-build-test experience that is accessible to all students, no matter their background or intended major. In this paper we will briefly discuss the previous course and how it has been adjusted to better address the institutional outcomes. We collected survey data from the students, where they self-assessed their abilities with respect to certain institutional outcomes, before the semester started and after the course concluded. The data include responses from students who were taught the heritage course during the Fall 2021 semester and these data will be compared and contrasted with the responses from the students who were taught and experienced the new curriculum during the Summer 2021, Fall 2021, and Spring 2022 semesters. The data show that student proficiencies remained the same for most institutional outcomes. One major highlight from the results is that student proficiency for the institutional outcome that targeted the understanding of prototyping increased more over the course of the semester with the course redesign than in previous semesters with the heritage course.

Kirkpatrick, D., & Anderson, M., & Cornwell, P. (2023, June), Redesigning an Introductory Mechanics Course to Include Meaningful Design Experiences Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44053

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: © 2023 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