June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1155.1 - 11.1155.11
Student Competitions - The Benefits and Challenges
Intercollegiate design competitions are a popular means to engage students in design activities that extend beyond the curriculum. When students gather around a project in their spare time and use their classroom skills to design, build, and test a product for an intercollegiate competition, something amazing happens: They develop a passion for engineering. This paper discusses the key benefits to engineering undergraduate students that flow from involvement in a team design competition. Advisor involvement plays a key role in both project success and student learning throughout the process. Different approaches to advising student competition teams are compared. Specific examples are taken from the authors' experience with Formula SAE, SAE Mini Baja, and ASME's Human Powered Vehicle competitions.
Responsibility for making the most effective educational use of a design competition is shared between the students, the faculty advisor, and the competition organizers. Design competitions build student enthusiasm; however, there are some things they learn that we may not want to be teaching. Some of the educational shortcomings of these activities are highlighted, with suggestions on how to manage them. In particular, this article focuses on the risks of (a) distraction from classes, (b) a build-and-test approach, (c) advisor co-opted designs, and (d) design changes for their own sake. The influence of the advisor and the competition rules on each of these concerns will be discussed. Finally, the competitions themselves will be investigated to see how the form of the events may be improved to further enhance the learning opportunities for the students.
Engineers seem to thrive on competition. At least, that is the perception you would gain if you looked at the student clubs on our campus. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) club will develop and race vehicles in the Formula SAE, Mini Baja, and Supermileage competitions this year. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) team has developed winning vehicles in that competition for three years running. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) worked on the Solar Decathalon project. Students in our department also have a Robotics club and a hybrid vehicle club.
As faculty at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI), we are interested in identifying and supporting those student activities that contribute most directly to student learning. However, as with most PUI’s, our school has high teaching loads and an increasing focus on research for professional development. The time we have available to devote to student clubs is limited, so we want to ensure we make the most of it.
In this paper, we discuss the benefits and issues of various intercollegiate design competitions, focusing on those directly within our experience – ASME HPV, Formula SAE, SAE Mini Baja, and SAE Supermileage. The authors all teach design and mechanics classes and are advisors of these four vehicle teams. Based on the authors’ different advising approaches—and observations
Schuster, P., & Davol, A., & Mello, J. (2006, June), Student Competitions The Benefits And Challenges Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/1055
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