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Resource For Effective Engineering Physics Laboratory And Project Assignments

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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

Issues in Physics and Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.982.1 - 7.982.7



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Paper Authors

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James Hereford

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

Main Menu Session 1380

Resource for Effective Engineering Physics Laboratory and Project Assignments

James M. Hereford

Department of Physics and Engineering Murray State University Murray, KY 42071

Abstract: Though effective project and laboratory assignments are important in an engineering education, the development of good assignments is impeded by several factors: (i) the present academic reward system does not encourage or promote laboratory development time; (ii) there is no mechanism in place to distribute labs; (iii) there is no mechanism in place to review or recognize appropriate lab assignments. In this paper, we present a resource that addresses the distribution of effective lab assignments. It is a web page that contains lab and project assignments appropriate to an Engineering Physics curriculum as well as links to other resources. We also present a proposal for a national database of lab assignments. This resource will, hopefully, encourage cooperation among universities, provide 3 rd party recognition for assignment authors, shorten preparation time for professors at other universities, and lead to more effective assignments for the students.

1. Introduction

Effective laboratory and project assignments are an important element in engineering education. Good laboratory assignments can spark interest in the students, correct conceptual misunderstandings, and help students adjust quicker to the work environment. (If a student has already used specific hardware and software tools in a university lab, then he/she will not need to be trained to use them on the job.)

However, rarely is there incentive or reward for professors to invest time in the development of effective lab assignments. Some of the hindrances to developing good assignments are: (i) it is time-consuming to develop lab and project assignments. There is the planning of the assignment itself and communicating what is expected to the student; often each step must also be clearly stated and described – almost in a tutorial fashion. (ii) One must fit the labs to the available equipment. For example, in a circuits lab, there is the issue of equipment (oscilloscope, waveform generator, power supply, multimeter, breadboad), the specifications and capabilities of each piece of equipment (e.g., bandwidth of scope, digital storage capability, print capability), availability of individual components (resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, etc) and number of test stations. (iii) There is no (or only small) tangible reward for development of good labs. Developing good labs takes time and creativity but it does not carry the same weight in

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Copyright © 2002, American Society of Engineering Education

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Hereford, J. (2002, June), Resource For Effective Engineering Physics Laboratory And Project Assignments Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10165

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: © 2002 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