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Stimulating Student Interest Through Automotive Systems Design

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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

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1019.1 - 7.1019.8



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Paper Authors

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Olakunle Harrison

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

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Olakunle Harrison

Mechanical Engineering Department Tuskegee University, Alabama


The subject of automotive systems remains an enduring area of great interest to many mechanical engineering students. This paper presents a pilot mechanical engineering course that stimulates student interest to a high degree. Significant advances in engineering methods, tools, and practices over the years have resulted in tremendous quality improvements in the production of consumer goods. While this trend is desirable and strenuously pursued by the engineering community, the implication for mechanical engineering is that students will have less exposure to the inner workings of machines, devices and their components. Simply stated, if it doesn’t break down, it won’t need fixing or investigating. Many mechanical engineering programs now have a Mechanical Dissection course to address this lack of exposure to the inner workings of representative consumer products. Many students love the automobile and want to know how its subsystems function. Students show heightened levels of interest when examples involving the automobile are used during instruction. Clearly, much engineering knowledge ca n be transferred through the use of examples and case studies within a framework to which students can relate. We at Tuskegee University are using automotive systems applications as a foundation for teaching a variety of engineering concepts and methods. To this end a course in which students immerse themselves in the fundamentals of automobiles has been developed. This 3-hour senior elective course entitled Automotive Systems Design serves as an exciting platform for introducing various applications of engineering principles. The main topics of the course are vehicle performance, powertrain, suspension, and braking. A survey of students taking the course indicates a high level of interest in the course. One indicator of student interest is the approximately four-fold increase in the number of questions asked during lectures.


Quality improvements over the past two decades have resulted in significant increases in the longevity and reliability of consumer products. Additionally, many products to which the current generation of engineering students is exposed are composed of complex, non-serviceable components. A consequence of this trend is that many mechanical engineering students lack a basic knowledge of how things work not having had many opportunities to tear down and attempt to repair a variety of devices. The number of mechanical engineering programs that have developed a freshman/sophomore level Mechanical Dissection course to address this

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Harrison, O. (2002, June), Stimulating Student Interest Through Automotive Systems Design Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10655

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