Asee peer logo

Teaching Basic Materials Engineering Design To Engineering Technology Students Using Stringed Instrument Top Design

Download Paper |

Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technology Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

13.1147.1 - 13.1147.18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3263

Download Count

184

Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Kathleen Kitto Western Washington University

Download Paper |

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

Teaching Basic Materials Engineering Design to Engineering Technology Students Using Stringed Instrument Top Design

Abstract

During the past five years, we have transformed our basic Introduction to Materials Engineering course from a passive lecture only course to a learner-centered and concept based course. It is known that teaching any course in multiple ways, especially in ways which build scaffolds from the students’ previous knowledge base, can prove to be very effective for a wide range of learners. One of the activities used in the course in this category which has proven useful and effective involves the use of stringed instrument design. This paper describes the selection of alternative materials for the design of soprano ukulele tops to teach materials engineering fundamentals such as the elastic constant, specific stiffness, density, bending stress and deflection. An inexpensive ukulele kit ($25) is used to construct the instruments with the alternative materials to illustrate the results of implementing the key design parameters on the sound of the instrument. The paper delineates the design parameters and equations needed for the ukulele tops so that other faculty members can easily use these concepts as an active learning tool. The paper also describes in detail how to construct the instruments with the new tops and how the tonal effects can be measured. Although mahogany and koa woods are the traditional choices for ukulele tops, a wide range of materials can be used such as natural materials like spruce and balsa wood to synthetic materials such as acrylic and carbon fiber reinforced plastics. It is very easy to demonstrate why some materials make superior instruments, while other materials produce mediocre instruments. One need not make careful measurements on some of the instruments produced as the tonal effects are dramatic and easy to hear. The geometry of the soprano ukulele is straightforward and its size is small, so this instrument is a good choice for in-class demonstrations, but the principles could be used to design acoustic or classical guitar tops or mandolin tops. The paper concludes with our initial assessment data, including lessons learned from pre- and post-class questionnaires, and actions that are planned for the future for this class for its continuing improvement.

Introduction

During the past five years, we have continuously transformed and improved our Introduction to Materials Engineering course with the overall goal of improving student learning by creating an active, learner-centered environment. By placing complex concepts, such as the anisotropic behavior of materials, in familiar contexts, students seem to become more engaged in and more excited about their own learning. In addition to formal and informal information that has been gathered based upon observing students and measuring their learning outcomes, several research investigations, such as a recent report from the National Research Council (NRC), have confirmed that it is important to build upon the “conceptual and cultural knowledge that students bring with them to the classroom”1. It is known that teaching any course in multiple ways, especially in ways which build scaffolds from the students’ previous knowledge base, can prove to be very

Kitto, K. (2008, June), Teaching Basic Materials Engineering Design To Engineering Technology Students Using Stringed Instrument Top Design Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3263

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015