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Switching Gears in Machine Design; A Focus Toward Technical Writing Skills in Lieu of a Hands-On Semester Design and Fabrication Project

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Machine Design Related

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Dennis O'Connor California State University, Chico

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Dr. Dennis O’Connor received his B.S. (2004) and M.S. (2007) in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Ph.D. (2014) in Engineering Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His major research interests are dynamics and vibration including nonlinear systems and numerical methods. He joined the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing (MMEM) at California State University Chico in 2015 as an Assistant Professor. Dr O’Connor teaches a myriad of courses including: Dynamics, Materials, Thermodynamics, Machine Design, and Vibrations. In addition, he is the faculty advisor to both Chico State Rocketry and SAE Mini Baja student clubs.

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In light of the recent global pandemic, many universities have decidedly transitioned to fully online. The obvious consequence being that technical hands-on activities are essentially no longer possible. Mechanical Engineering Design (i.e., Machine Design) at [University Name] normally facilitates a semester-long design and fabrication project to give students a real-world engineering experience. As an alternative, this paper considers the effectiveness and benefit of focusing on the documentation and presentation of engineering analysis and design work rather than hands-on projects. In a series of activity assignments, students are required to compose short technical reports which document their engineering analysis in professional form. Each subsequent assignment has an increased level of analysis complexity and documentation which relates to the course material. A mid-semester survey was administered to help improve this learning modality, and a second survey near the end looked to quantify any said benefits of improved student outcomes. Student feedback and their measured performances on each technical writing assignment is presented herein.

O'Connor, D. (2021, July), Switching Gears in Machine Design; A Focus Toward Technical Writing Skills in Lieu of a Hands-On Semester Design and Fabrication Project Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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