June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.1272.1 - 12.1272.11
Sensors and Systems in a Freshman Design Course
The second design course taken by all engineering Freshman was recently revised to build upon a first semester design course project in which sensors and programming (C++) are introduced in a robot challenge. In the second design course the students now have their programming knowledge extended to a graphical environment by learning LabVIEW™ through a series of assignments in which they interface various sensors to their laptop computers. Applications include a simple motor speed control using a shaft encoder. Students then use their knowledge in a team design project that incorporates data acquisition from sensors to a laptop computer, display of the sensor data and its use to control some aspect of the system to which it is applied. Teams are provided with design project choices, each posed as a set of system requirements. This together with mini-lectures and assignments continue a thread started in the first design course to develop systems concepts in the context of design. Development of students’ comfort and capacity with sensors and systems as a core thread early in their education provides an important foundation for future engineers.
Following a major revision in 1998, the engineering curriculum at Stevens Institute of Technology includes a design course in each of the eight semesters. This is collectively referred to as the Design Spine1. The first five are core design courses taken by students from all intended disciplines; the last three are taken in the discipline - a junior course followed by a 2-semester capstone senior year project. In most cases the core design courses are linked to concurrent engineering science courses, thus providing context for the latter. The Design Spine is a key vehicle to develop a number of threads that build both technical and so-called “soft” competencies. The latter include communications, creative thinking, teaming, economics of engineering, problem solving, project management etc. It should be noted that the first four design courses have been taught by adjunct engineers, either practicing or recently retired. They bring the benefit of their design experience into the classroom. A further curriculum revision in Fall 2005 provided the opportunity to completely revise Engineering Design II, taken in Freshman Year second semester. An objective for the revised course was to build upon the use of programming and sensors that was introduced to the Freshmen in Engineering Design I in the context of a robot project. It provided an opportunity to introduce graphical programming through LabVIEW which had previously not been addressed until the fourth design course in the sequence and then somewhat superficially. In providing this early emphasis on sensors and their interfacing through LabVIEW in a core design course it is intended to impress upon students the ubiquitous nature of sensors and systems for monitoring and control across the engineering spectrum. The revision of Design II also provided an opportunity to continue developing concepts of systems thinking initiated in Design I as described below and to further enhance other threads in teaming, creative thinking and communications.
Sheppard, K., & Blicharz, E., & Gallois, B., & Jain, R., & Denholm, I. (2007, June), Sensors And Systems In A Freshman Design Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1755
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