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Supporting A Meaningful Design Build Challenge For Freshman Engineering Students

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Teaching Strategies in Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1184.1 - 10.1184.6



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Paper Authors

author page

S. C. York

author page

Tamara Knott

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

Supporting a Meaningful Design-Build Challenge for Freshman Engineering Students

S. C. York and T. W. Knott

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

The second semester Introduction to Engineering course taught by the Department of Engineering Education (EngE) at Virginia Tech contains a semester-long, design-build, team- based project that constitutes a significant portion of each student’s grade in the course. For the past three years, EngE has directed students toward the ASEE Engineering Design Graphics Division (EDGD) freshman design challenge as the required design project and EngE has utilized the ASEE project as a vehicle to teach the engineering design process, project management, and graphics communication to first-year engineering students. In years past, the large number of Virginia Tech engineering students has inhibited our ability to provide students with support and facilities during the build phase of their project. In spring 2004, the EngE department enhanced the student design experience by providing workshops where students have supervised access to a shop-like atmosphere. Students get to borrow/use basic tools in a safe environment to perform project construction work. To help motivate the students, winners of previous freshman design competitions are hired to mentor and supervised the freshman teams during these construction workshops.

This paper describes annual EDGD freshman design challenge, details Virginia Tech’s participation and success in the event and encourages more participation by our sister institutions. The role of the ASEE contest within the Virginia Tech first-year engineering program is discussed. Details of the planning, implementation, and costs for the construction workshops are provided and tips for conducting similar workshops requiring only limited facilities and funds are provided. Finally, the success of the workshop is evaluated via a student survey.


Design projects are commonly used at all levels of undergraduate engineering education to teach engineering design, graphics communication, and teamwork. Projects offer an opportunity to put into practice the principles taught in the classroom. Project work provides a framework for instruction in the art of maintaining design notebooks, running effective meetings, completing a design report, and creating working drawings. In addition, for freshman engineering students, group projects help the students form a support network of friends and study partners. Treating the design project as the “centerpiece” of the course rather than merely an out-of-class assignment significantly enhances the educational value of the design project. The project experience offers a common reference point for discussions of project and time management, engineering economics, technical communications, ethics, and other engineering topics.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

York, S. C., & Knott, T. (2005, June), Supporting A Meaningful Design Build Challenge For Freshman Engineering Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14869

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