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Studying the Impact on Mechanical Engineering Students who participate in Distinctive Projects in Thermodynamics

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Curricular Developments in Energy Education I

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1351.1 - 22.1351.15



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Paper Authors


Margaret B. Bailey Rochester Institute of Technology

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Margaret Bailey is Professor of Mechanical Engineering within the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at RIT and is the Founding Executive Director for the nationally recognized women in engineering program called WE@RIT. She recently accepted the role as Faculty Associate to the Provost for Female Faculty and serves as the co-chair on the President’s Commission on Women. She began her academic career as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, being the first woman civilian faculty member in her department. Margaret maintains a research program in the area of advanced thermodynamic analyses and health monitoring of energy intensive systems.

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Studying the Impact on Mechanical Engineering Students who participate in a Unique Series of Projects in ThermodynamicsAbstractThis paper summarizes two projects which were created in 2001 and incorporated withinThermodynamics I and II courses. Intended learning outcomes of the projects includestrengthening Thermodynamics related knowledge; improving communication abilities, andstrengthening intellectual curiosity in areas related to thermodynamics and mechanicalengineering, in general. The focus of this paper is on the framework development to measurecertain effects that project participation may have had on student participants. In 2001, theprojects were introduced and over the past nine years, each project has been refined throughassessment in order to improve student learning while achieving intended learning outcomes.Thermodynamics courses in mechanical engineering focus on the first and second laws ofthermodynamics in order to prepare students for subsequent courses and ultimately, engineeringpractice. Therefore, thermodynamics courses aim to strengthen a student’s theoretical base andimprove analytical skills while focusing on the relevant and timely subject matter of how energyin the form of heat is converted to energy in the form of work. For many students in athermodynamics class, this is their first opportunity to gain an understanding of how variouscycles’ work and how these same cycles can be analyzed and evaluated. This paper summarizestwo projects which were designed to prolong and strengthen students’ interest in areas related tothermodynamics. The first project is an individual project within Thermodynamics I requiringthe student to critically read a technical book related to Thermodynamics (selected by studentand approved by professor), technically review the book in written form, and orally presentresults to the class in an informal setting. The second is a team project within ThermodynamicsII which requires student teams to create and present a class-long presentation for a non-technicalaudience of their choice (pending professor approval). The content of the presentation muststrongly relate to Thermodynamics and have direct relevance to the audience. Past student teamshave presented to a variety of audiences ranging from college level liberal arts classes to middleand high school science, math, and technology classes.This paper includes a brief background of both projects including results of assessment andcontinuous improvement. The main focus of the paper is the development of an assessmentstrategy to measure lasting impact associated with project participation. Survey instrumentsdeveloped in this process are administered on a pilot basis and results are presented.

Bailey, M. B. (2011, June), Studying the Impact on Mechanical Engineering Students who participate in Distinctive Projects in Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18573

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