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Students Using Sensors: Multi-Disciplinary Interactive Demonstrations for First-Year Design Courses

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Integrating Computing into the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Lisa DeWitte University of Florida

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Lisa DeWitte is a 4th year Engineering Student at the University of Florida majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. She has been involved in Undergraduate Research since her freshman year designing course curriculum for a freshman design course and providing manufacturing support for an aerospace controls laboratory. Her research interests are in engineering education, advanced manufacturing, and the design process. She intends to pursue an advanced degree in Manufacturing.

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Pamela L. Dickrell University of Florida

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Dr. Pamela Dickrell is the Associate Director of the Institute for Excellence in Engineering Education, in the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Her role as Associate Director of the Institute focuses on effective teaching methods and hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate student engagement and retention. Dr. Dickrell received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in Tribology. Her current research work focuses on engineering hands-on learning, first-year programs, and makerspace based educational experiences.

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The work presented is of the development of interactive classroom demonstrations created for use in Engineering Design & Society, a first-year introductory engineering design course with an emphasis of using the human-centered design process to address societal problems. Coursework covers basic programming, solid modeling, rapid prototyping, data acquisition, and sensors. These demonstrations are designed to illustrate the use of sensors across engineering disciplines, educate students categorized as undecided engineering majors about the many branches and applications of the engineering field, and highlight the value of a working knowledge of electrical and computer science components regardless of the chosen discipline. Each demonstration is composed of a Vernier analog or digital sensor, Vernier Arduino Interface Shield, Arduino, removable breadboard with supporting circuitry, and a model of an environment where the sensor would be applied, typically constructed with 3D printed parts. Students are able to build their own supporting circuitry, implement it in the model environment, and control real time inputs and operating conditions through physical stimulus and manipulating the Arduino code. Current constructed demonstrations are as follows: a.) An automated conveyor belt coupled with the Vernier Photogate Sensor with an emphasis on Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing. b.) A model bridge strut equipped with the Vernier Dual Force sensor in selected cross beams that allows the student to observe static tensile and compressive forces. This demonstration mostly concentrates on Civil engineering, with supplementary mechanical engineering principles. c.) An automated titration apparatus using a Vernier Ph sensor that illustrates applications of environmental and chemical engineering. This presented body of work will include supporting schematics of all model demonstrations, including detailed descriptions of their functionality and operation, for other universities interested in developing their own representative models for student education or recruitment. In the future, models of all major engineering subdisciplines will be developed with the intention of providing comprehensive methods of educating undecided engineering majors about future career paths and promoting interdisciplinary critical thought through hands-on interaction.

DeWitte, L., & Dickrell, P. L. (2019, June), Students Using Sensors: Multi-Disciplinary Interactive Demonstrations for First-Year Design Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33310

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