New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
In an effort to modernize our curriculum and the skills taught to our Mechanical Engineering students a curriculum revision process was started in 2010 and the first new courses were implemented in Fall 2014. The class has been taught successfully in Fall 2014, Spring and Summer 2015 semesters. This paper will describe the success and challenges in implementation and running of the first of four ME-Practice classes replacing all traditional lab classes as part of a curriculum revision. The real course content planning started in Summer 2013 with the finalization of the detailed definition of learning goals and identification of possible practice session experiments (not labs) that would tie the learning goals together as much as possible. Software packages were chosen and coordinated for use in the curriculum to minimize the students having to learn more software packages than needed. For the two credit class, 13 weeks of materials were created which covers the topics of safety training and writing instruction, data acquisition, reverse engineering of a consumer product and manufacturing techniques, tension and bending testing to determine material properties, multi-domain system modeling software and application in an elevator system test and model validation, introduction to control systems, Finite element modeling of truss structures, a bridge experiment, design of a new truss element given engineering requirements and 3D printing and testing of the new truss element, concluding with learning about G-code for lathes and manufacturing of an aluminum chess piece. Supplies were ordered and user manuals as well as practice session instructions were written.
The assignments, quizzes and practice sessions were then designed to mimic real world scenarios and the weekly deliverables in the form of individual or group reports to a supervisor within the context of the scenario (e.g. you are an engineer working for company x to reverse engineer a product of company y). The assignments were setup in such a way that each individual student learns each of the skills first and reports on them one week and then applies them to follow-up assignments in group setting the next week(s). Templates were constructed and grading rubrics implemented to coordinate and standardize all documents and grading. A course template with all documents and assignments was setup in a course management system to facilitate a uniform class delivery to all sections. In the Fall 2014 approximately 180 students took the course followed by approximately 120 in Spring 2015 and 9 in the summer 2015. In Fall 2015, 265 students are enrolled in the class. The student evaluations and feedback has overall been positive but the logistics has posed challenges related to the volume of students as well as teaching the old and new curriculum in parallel during the transition period. All challenges have been solved and continuous improvements are being made. Training of teaching assistants and faculty is ongoing to improve uniformity in grading and quality of feedback to the students.
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