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The Impact of Activity Based Learning, a New Instructional Method, in an Existing Mechanical Engineering Curriculum for Fluid Mechanics

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Active and Project-Based Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1467.1 - 22.1467.12



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Paper Authors


Lynn Albers North Carolina State University

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Lynn Albers received her B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Nuclear Engineering at Manhattan College in 1996. After working for Nortel Networks and the North Carolina Solar Center, Lynn matriculated at North Carolina State University where she is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering. Her dissertation spans the Colleges of Engineering and Education and will be the first of its kind at NCSU.

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Laura Bottomley received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1985 from Virginia Tech. She received her Ph D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992. Dr. Bottomley worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories as a member of technical staff in Transmission Systems from 1985 to 1987, during which time she worked in ISDN standards, including representing Bell Labs on an ANSI standards committee for physical layer ISDN standards. She received an Exceptional Contribution Award for her work during this time. After receiving her Ph D., Dr. Bottomley worked as a faculty member at Duke University and consulted with a number of companies, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Ericsson. In 1997, she became a faculty member at NC State University and became the Director of Women in Engineering and K-12 Outreach. She has taught classes at the university from the freshman level to the graduate level, and outside the university from the kindergarten level to the high school level. Dr. Bottomley has authored or co-authored 37 technical papers, including papers in such diverse journals as the IEEE Industry Applications Magazine and the Hungarian Journal of Telecommunications. She received the President's Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science, an Engineering Mentoring program award in 1999, and individual award in 2007. She was recognized by the IEEE with an EAB Meritorious Achievement Award in Informal Education in 2009 and by the YWCA with an appointment to the Academy of Women for Science and Technology in 2008. Her program received the WEPAN Outstanding Women in Engineering Program Award in 2009. Her work was featured on the National Science Foundation Discoveries web site. She is a member of Sigma Xi, past chair of the K-12 and Precollege Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators, and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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The Impact of Activity Based Learning, a New Instructional Method, in an Existing Mechanical Engineering Curriculum for Fluid MechanicsAbstractReplacing lecture time with activity based learning positively affects university students inundergraduate fluid mechanics by reinforcing concepts learned during lecture, visually teachingnew concepts and providing an outlet where the students are free to interact more casually withthe instructor and their peers. Results of this are higher student achievement, a more thoroughunderstanding of the material and a more positive attitude towards learning. We will show theimpact of activity based learning through comparison of exam scores of students in control vs.experimental classes and through surveys and observations.Activity based learning is a new instructional method applied to an existing mechanicalengineering curriculum for fluid mechanics. The new instructional method involves students inhands-on activities that are originally designed or modified from existing activities by thegraduate instructor, student presentations, instructor demonstrations and projects. Fluidmechanics is one of the more disliked courses in the engineering curriculum due to the difficultyof the material. The goal of the activities, that address the same objectives of the course, is tohelp the student grasp the concepts and improve the overall learning experience.

Albers, L., & Bottomley, L. (2011, June), The Impact of Activity Based Learning, a New Instructional Method, in an Existing Mechanical Engineering Curriculum for Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18852

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