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The Computer...A Real World Engineering Tool For Freshmen

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.447.1 - 1.447.5

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Paper Authors

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Robert L. Drake

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Ottis L. Barron

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J. Douglas Sterrett

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

. . . session 2326


The Computer...A Real-World Engineering Tool For Freshmen

J. Douglas Sterrett, Robert L. Drake, Ottis L. Barron University of Tennessee at Martin


Two new courses which have been added to the freshman engineering cuniculum to replace the traditional introductory engineering courses are discussed. These courses were designed to introduce the student to the use of the personal computer to establish a link between physical measurements, data acquisition, analysis, and the control of physical systems. The computer tools are also used in the forma] presentation of results. This engineering experience will stimulate interest, reduce early attrition, and increase the attractiveness of the engineering program.


In recent years, engineering education has come under increasing criticism from the industrial community. Reacting to this criticis~ the School of Engineering Technology and Engineering at The University of Tennessee at Martin has undertaken an extensive revision of the cuniculum 1. Ln response t o suggestions from graduates and the industrial advisory board, increased emphasis is being placed on communication skills and experience in working as a member of a design team. Although initiated before the release of a 1994 ASEE report 2, the new program parallels the recommendations contained in the report. 3 4 Ideas fi-om Keen and a March 1995 workshop are being incorporated into a two-course freshman sequence initially offered in the 1995-96 academic year. These courses are the first of several that incorporate design projects, reports, and presentations in an effort to produce better prepared graduates.

An oflen heard complaint fi-om fist and second year engineering students is “I’m studying all of this math and science-when will I get to do some engineering?” ~s comment maybe a clue to the cause of the high attrition rate of entering engineering students. The new two-course freshman sequence makes use of projects, laboratory experiments, and demonstrations to get the first-year students involved in engineering. The primary goals of these courses are:

. Introduce the personal computer as an engineering tool. . Introduce engineering design and analysis. . Introduce laboratory data acquisition and analysis techniques. . Develop the teamwork approach to the solution of engineering design projects. . Develop report preparation and presentation skills. . Heighten student interest in engineering as a profession

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Drake, R. L., & Barron, O. L., & Sterrett, J. D. (1996, June), The Computer...A Real World Engineering Tool For Freshmen Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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