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Reflective Journaling on a Systems Approach to Vehicle Design

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

ETD Design II: Mechanical Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1231.1 - 22.1231.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Janet Braun Western Washington University

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Reflective Journaling on a Systems Approach to Vehicle DesignSoft skills, such as the ability to function effectively on teams, to communicateeffectively, to engage in lifelong learning, and to understand professional, ethical andsocial responsibilities, are required outcomes for ABET accredited EngineeringTechnology Programs. Input from industry advisory councils and feedback fromemployed alumni agree that these skills are crucial, regardless of the industry or type ofwork. The author, being personally motivated from nearly two decades of industryexperience in engineering management and leadership roles, has attempted to helpstudents develop these important skills in one upper division course in the context ofusing a systems approach to vehicle design.A systems approach to vehicle design is essential in a competitive environment,especially in times of financial strain. The complexity of systems on modern vehiclesrequires the concurrent involvement of multiple disciplines in order to shortendevelopment cycles and reduce development costs. This is possible if development isdone in a common framework providing a common communication platform for alldisciplines. One such platform is MATLAB/Simulink software developed by TheMathworks. Industry has widely adopted such platforms for product design, simulationand testing, driving the need for engineering educators to incorporate this intoengineering curriculums.This paper outlines the parallel processes of developing of soft skills while learning asystems approach to vehicle design by using MATLAB/Simulink. Coursework whichwas developed in part by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and The Mathworksprovided the basis for the model based system design content of the course. Areflective journal was incorporated to foster a deeper dimension of self-learning,requiring students to step back and analyze the implications of a systems approach tovehicle design as well as the impact of this approach on the wider organization as wellas society. Journal prompts were also assigned to stimulate thoughtful reflection on therole of the student in the collaborative approach to this process through prompting forevidence of specific behaviors, specifically those generally identified as importantcommunication and teamwork skills.In addition to the journals, a pre-course essay was employed to determine the students’awareness of themselves and their behaviors of collaboration and leadership. A post-course essay was personalized for each student, asking them where they sawthemselves at the end of the course and to provide evidence from the 10 week courseof how they had changed their behavior, based on their self-learning throughout theterm. The journals as well as the pre- and post-course essays provide evidence ofstudents developing a systems approach along with the soft skills necessary forsuccess in a collaborative environment.

Braun, J. (2011, June), Reflective Journaling on a Systems Approach to Vehicle Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18630

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