June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.1075.1 - 23.1075.16
Team Project Assignment Utilizing Realistic Software Simulation Environment to Engage Students and Advance Learning in an Introductory Statics Course AbstractIn a typical engineering curriculum Statics is the first course offered by engineering faculty thatfreshman students in the engineering major take subsequent to fundamental courses involvingbasic physics and basic Calculus. While freshman design course has been widely adopted inengineering curricula throughout the nation to provide a flavor of real world engineering, sparkcreativity, incorporate project based active learning and teamwork, and improve studentretention; Statics continues to provide significant challenge to freshman engineering students todemonstrate that they have mastered the fundamentals to move on to courses such as Dynamicsand Mechanics of Materials that immediately follow in a typical mechanical, aerospace, civil,biomedical, agricultural and general or integrated engineering curricula. University of MarylandEastern Shore (UMES) offers a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering with specializationoptions in mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and computer engineering. All engineering studentsat UMES are required to take the basic engineering mechanics sequence including Statics,Dynamics, and Mechanics of Material.Statics is offered as a 3 credit lecture course at UMES. Non-uniform preparation levels ofstudents and logistics associated with credit-hour limitation and student contact hours provideenormous challenges to faculty to cover all fundamental concepts and assess student outcomesthat demonstrate their readiness to move on to engineering mechanics courses that follow.Recognizing the difficulty students have in Statics, engineering faculty have discussed aboutintroducing an additional laboratory hour in the curriculum to motivate students and provide aphysical framework to demonstrate the abstract concepts. While additional contact hours willcertainly enhance learning; credit hour limitation of curricula is also a “realistic constraint”around which engineering curricula has to be designed. Integration of realistic computersimulations in and outside engineering classroom enables students to gain hands-on activelearning experiences without expensive laboratory set-ups. Moreover, unlike laboratory set-upsthat can cover only a limited number of physical systems and are available to the students onlyfor a limited period of time, software tools can simulate an unlimited variety of physical systemsthat can be manipulated at will without risk of damage or maintenance and are available forstudent use for extended periods of time.In this paper we outline how online tools and simulation software have been utilized to introduceactive and project based learning in the Statics course at UMES. The emphasis has been onmastering important fundamental concepts while encouraging cooperative learning andteamwork. Learning curve associated with mastering the software environment provides somechallenges, however, motivated students can overcome the initial hurdles by utilizing the facultyoffice hours more effectively as they transition from a “teacher-centered” passive learningframework to a “learner centered” active learning framework.
Nagchaudhuri, A., & Sharma, R. (2013, June), Software Simulations and Project Based Active Learning to Engage Students in an Introductory Statics Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22460
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