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Teaching Machine Design Through Product Emulation

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Design in the Engineering Core

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1084.1 - 7.1084.10



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Paper Authors

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Matthew Campbell

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

Main Menu Session 2366

Teaching Machine Design through Product Emulation

Matthew I. Campbell

Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 78705

1 Introduction

It is widely accepted that in order to learn complex technical material well, some form of active experimentation or “hands-on” activities are required. Traditionally, in engineering education this occurs through laboratory experiments or through design projects. In laboratory experiments students observe the physical phenomena that is presented as theory in the classroom often through dissecting complex artifacts, for example, examining the thermodynamics of a refrigeration cycle by studying a refrigerator. Design projects provide a different experience for students, as it allows them to work together on complex problems where the best solution is not known and is complicated by the influence of countless practical matters. This paper describes a new class project that incorporates both qualities of laboratory dissection and design project construction. It is referred to as emulation and has proven to be both an effective and well-liked approach to teaching the fundamentals of machine component design.

The machine elements course at the University of Texas at Austin is taken by mostly junior-level mechanical engineering students. This course is focused on teaching the fundamentals of mechanical components: both their functional behaviors and the purpose for their various geometries. One common problem with this course within the modern mechanical engineering curriculum is that it essentially encapsulates the bulk of mechanical engineering knowledge that existed prior to the Second World War. It can be a daunting task for any instructor as the amount of material to be taught is both immense, and yet, sometimes only historically interesting. Fortunately, the instructor is relieved from teaching conceptually difficult material as many of the relationships are derived from empirical experiments as opposed to first principles and differential calculus. As a result however, the class tends to be taught in a very content-intensive manner – full of definitions and simple relations for calculating component behaviors and component failure. Furthermore, these courses in machine component fundamentals are still expected to outfit students with the mechanical intuition that engineers a hundred years achieved under an extensive mentorship program.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Campbell, M. (2002, June), Teaching Machine Design Through Product Emulation Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11027

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