June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Various stages are ascribed to the engineering design process, but they typically include (1) problem identification, (2) research and conceptualization, (3) prototyping, (4) testing, and finally (5) iteration of some or all of steps 1-4. Design courses are often tasked with teaching all of these in the span of a single semester. The coverage is often biased; problem identification, research, and brainstorming are easily taught in a traditional classroom. Fabrication, testing, and iteration, in contrast, are often emphasized less. This is presumably due to the facilities, time, and material costs needed to execute these steps.
We posit that immersive design-build-iterate experiences are a vital part of early-year undergraduate engineering education, and that they can improve student outcomes in their major design experiences.
To test this hypothesis, we compared two years of fourth year capstone design outcomes in a biomedical engineering program. Students in this program take a required second-year course in biomedical design. In the control year of this study, the second-year students engaged in traditional design instruction that emphasized steps 1 and 2. Students themselves identified fabrication resources, and only one prototype was required. In the intervention year, students were instead engaged in design instruction that emphasized steps 3 through 5. Of particular note, these students were engaged for half the semester in hands-on fabrication of devices, and were required to prototype their design solutions twice to emphasize the importance of iteration.
We found that an immersive design-build-iterate experience in the 2nd year is associated with narrowly focused improvements in 4th year capstone design outcomes. Specifically, the built quality of the final prototype was improved in projects that focused on mechanical design, but these improvements did not extend to other types of projects or to other late steps in the engineering design process. We discuss our findings in terms of the spacing effect, and other means by which engineering design behavior might be reinforced.
Guilford, W. H., & Allen, T. E., & Peirce, S. M. (2017, June), The Forgotten Steps of Engineering Design: Design-Build Experiences and their Downstream Effect on Capstone Design Projects Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28970
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