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Solid Modeling As The Cornerstone Of An Introduction To Engineering Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD2 -- Highlighting First-Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1140.1 - 11.1140.8



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Paper Authors


William Howard East Carolina University

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William E.(Ed) Howard is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at East Carolina University. Prior to joining ECU, he was a faculty member and program coordinator at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Howard has fourteen years of industrial experience in design and project engineering functions. He received BS and MS degrees from Virginia Tech, and his PhD from Marquette University. Howard is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin.

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Joseph Musto Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Joe Musto is an Associate Professor and Mechanical Engineering Program Director at Milwaukee School of Engineering. He holds a B.S. from Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY), and an M.Eng. and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY), all in Mechanical Engineering. His industrial experience includes engineering positions with Eastman Kodak Company (Rochester, NY) and Brady Corporation (Milwaukee, WI). He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin.

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

Solid Modeling as the Cornerstone of an Introduction to Engineering Course


Most engineering programs have freshman-level courses that are designed to introduce students to the engineering profession, teach problem-solving and design skills, and motivate the students. Engineering graphics is a subject that is also usually taught at the freshman level, sometimes integrated with the introduction to engineering course, other times as a stand-alone course. Solid modeling software has become widely used in education over the past decade, primarily in existing engineering graphics courses. Because solid modeling is an integral part of the product design cycle, it can be used as a gateway to explore engineering design and to relate coursework to real world applications. The use of solid modeling software at the freshman level also has the potential for improving the confidence level of some students regarding their abilities to perform engineering work. A proposed course structure centered around solid modeling is presented, and examples of partial implementations are given.


Most engineering curricula have some sort of an Introduction to Engineering course for freshman students. Brannon and Wankot1 found that more than two-thirds of engineering programs contain such an introductory course. The content of such courses varies widely from program to program. At some institutions which have a common first year for all engineering freshmen, the course is designed to include an introduction to the various engineering disciplines. This introduction is intended to assist students in making a choice of majors after the freshman year. Many freshman classes are intended to develop specific student skills in areas such graphics and computer programming. Requirements from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)2 have resulted in the inclusion of topics such as teamwork, ethics, and the engineering profession at the freshman level.

Design is also a component of many first-year engineering courses. The inclusion of design at this level is probably one of the most-discussed topics in engineering education. A common argument against design content at the freshman level is that without the mathematical and analytical skills, student design projects tend to trivialize the detailed design steps. Crockett et al3 counter this argument by pointing out that throughout the history of engineering, tools are often used before they are fully understood; that is, innovations often lead to better theoretical understanding rather than vice versa.

Whatever the course content, a common goal of almost all freshman engineering courses is to motivate the students. Often, engineering faculty interpret this goal as a need for design-build experiences, since the stereotypical engineering student likes “hands-on” activities. However, these freshman design/build projects can have the effect of rewarding students who come into college with good hands-on skills and discouraging other students. Dee and Livesay4 surveyed students who left engineering and asked them to select the type of courses they would most like to take. Courses with hands-on experiments and laboratories were the least favored by these students. Besterfield-Sacre et al5 found that students who left engineering in good academic

Howard, W., & Musto, J. (2006, June), Solid Modeling As The Cornerstone Of An Introduction To Engineering Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--136

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