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The Design Competition as a Tool for Teaching Statics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Mechanics Concepts II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1283.1 - 25.1283.13



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Paper Authors

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Sinead C. Mac Namara Syracuse University

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The Design Competition as a Tool for Teaching Statics.This paper describes ongoing efforts at ______ University to re-engineer the traditionalstatics course. This course forms part of a larger NSF funded project aimed at increasinginnovation and creativity in engineering curricula. The principal aim of the overallproject is to find strategies to foster and reward creativity in engineering students.There is no doubt that both academic and practicing engineers are to be creative everydayin their labs, their jobsites, and their workshops and offices, but engineering educationdoes not consistently address this vital skill, address its relationship to research anddesign, or explicitly integrate it into an undergraduate student’s training. Leadingengineering education experts have described “creative experiential, problem basedlearning” as the model for future engineering curricula if the US is to maintain atechnologically and economically competitive workforce.i Teaching engineering designas a vehicle to incorporate creativity into engineering curricula is widely acknowledgedby engineering education researchers. Engineering students have difficulty integratingtheir studies into real engineering situations because of lack of exposure. It is thiscapacity to integrate knowledge and skills into the practice of engineering that creates thecreative engineer. Engineering education researchers and practitioners have widelyacknowledged the problem of design education in engineering programs. In the 1990sfirst-year design courses were widely introduced in engineering programs in an attempt tointroduce students to the nature of their chosen profession earlier in their college careers.Capstone design courses at the end of engineering programs likewise represent anopportunity for students to take both design work and a whole real world structure.However, design is not widely included as part of the curriculum in core courses in thesecond and third years of studyThis paper describes a design competition project assigned to sophomore static’s studentsaimed at introducing students to more open ended problem solving, design as a corecomponent of engineering education, and the importance of innovation and creativity inengineering. The evaluation of this project includes both student performance data andstudent perception data with regard to: themselves as designers, the role of design inengineering, and the value of such an assignment in learning statics concepts. This studypresents the results of the competition and the evaluation of the intervention.

i Katehi, Linda and Ross, Michael. 2001. Technology and Culture: Exploring the Creative Instinct throughCultural Interpretations. Journal of Engineering Education. 96(2) pp 89-90

Mac Namara, S. C. (2012, June), The Design Competition as a Tool for Teaching Statics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22040

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