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The Dos And Do Nots For Major Projects In An Introductory Design Course

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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

Issues of Concern to New Faculty

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1140.1 - 7.1140.12



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Richard Bannerot

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Session 3275

The DO’s and DO NOT’s for Major Projects in an Introductory Design Course

Richard Bannerot

University of Houston


A sophomore level course, “Introduction to Mechanical Design”, has been a required course for mechanical engineering majors (but for the purposes of this paper it could just as well have been for all engineering students) at the University of Houston since 1980. Since 1991 it has been taught each fall and spring, to between 35 and 55 students, by the author of this paper. The course is usually the first engineering course taken by a mechanical engineering student. Therefore, part of the course objective is to introduce students to, and build their confidence in, problem-solving. The course is project oriented and, during a typical semester, one major group project and two or three minor projects (individual or group) are assigned. While the intent, extent and format of the minor projects change each semester, the format, structure and the evaluation process for the major projects (which change each semester) have evolved to a more or less steady state. While the course content includes a potpourri of topics, e.g., the design process, shop practice, manufacturing, creativity, ethics, statistics, intellectual property, codes and standards, personality issues (Myers-Briggs) and working in groups, the major project remains the single most significant part of the course counting for as much as 50% of the course grade. The major project is presented to the class in the second week of the course and continues throughout the semester. Among the delieverables are: a working device which satisfies a set of constraints and performs satisfactorily, written progress reports, group meetings with the instructor, initial testing (proof of concept), final testing in which success in approaching specified goals is measured, a final written report, a final oral presentation and a design evaluation. Group performance on all of these “requirements” contributes to the final grade for the project and removes much of the “pressure” for a device to “perform” at the final testing, i.e., the execution of the design process is viewed as an important part of the evaluation of the project. The experience gained from the twenty-one major projects over the past ten years has provided many useful lessons about the “DO’s” and “DO NOT’s” for project conception, development, expectations, management and evaluation. The purpose of this paper is to share some of

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

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Bannerot, R. (2002, June), The Dos And Do Nots For Major Projects In An Introductory Design Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10983

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