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The Impact On Students Of Freshman Design Projects Supporting Advanced Courses

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

FPD12 -- Novel Approaches to First Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1433.1 - 12.1433.13



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Paper Authors


Cecelia Wigal University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

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Cecelia M. Wigal received her Ph.D. in 1998 from Northwestern University and her PE license from Ohio in 2003. She is presently an associate professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Her primary areas of interest and expertise include complex process and system analysis, quality process analysis with respect to nontraditional applications such as patient safety, and information system analysis with respect to usability and effectivity. Dr. Wigal is also interested in engineering education reform to address present and future student learning and industry and society needs.

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Ignatius Fomunung University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

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Ignatius W. Fomunung received his Ph.D. in 2000 from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is presently an associate professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). His primary areas of interest and expertise include transportation-air quality planning and analysis, application of advanced technologies in transportation, and the development of clean alternative fuels and energy sources. Dr Fomunung is an ExCEED (Excellence in Civil Engineering Education) Fellow.

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Edwin Foster University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

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Edwin P. Foster, PhD, P.E. is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He received his B.E., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University with a year of postgraduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana. He has over fifty publications in five countries and has been with the University of Tennessee for thirty-nine years. He was a NASA-ASEE Summer Faculty Fellow at NASA/Langley and has served as an elected officer in ASEE and TSPE. He has also been the president of the Tennessee Section of ASCE.

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Ronald Goulet University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

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

The Impact on Students of Freshman Design Projects Supporting Advanced Courses

Abstract The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) identifies design as an important element of the engineering curriculum. The faculty at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) believes the concepts and principles of design are as fundamental to undergraduate engineering education as are those tools and topics traditionally thought as fundamental (such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, statics, and dynamics). The faculty also believes, as supported in the literature, that getting engineering students involved in hands-on projects early in their academic career motivates students and aids in retention. This paper describes the process and outcomes of using Project-Based Learning, specifically hands-on design projects supporting upper level course work, in the freshman design course. Student motivation and learning are discussed as well as specific project outcomes.

Introduction The Engineering program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) recently redesigned its freshman introduction to engineering design course (IED) to use Project-Based Learning (PBL) to excite students to independently learn, to create an environment for peer learning, and to increase student in-class and out of class participation. It is believed that these objectives are instrumental for exciting students about engineering, for increasing student retention, for motivating learning, and for improving students’ knowledge transfer capabilities especially in the application of engineering design.2,3,6

As a part of the PBL emphasis the IED course structure now culminates in customer supported student design projects. Some of the project customers are instructors of sophomore, junior, or senior level courses. To solicit these projects, the IED course instructors distribute a call for project proposals to the faculty and staff of the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS). Interested instructors submit the two page proposal which is reviewed for applicability to freshmen design and technical knowledge (many of the students have not yet taken any other engineering course). The instructors know to constrain the projects so they can be completed in seven weeks but to make them complex enough to have a variety of solutions to allow the students to participate in decision making. Students model their final solutions using 3D software and fabricate them in the College’s machine shop.

At present one to four projects each semester support either upper level courses or upper level design team projects. To develop the knowledge needed to successfully experience the design process and to develop successful designs for these projects, students are introduced to technical theory and applications associated with the advanced courses (through the sponsoring faculty). The initial review of student reaction to the completion of these projects caused the sponsoring faculty and course instructor to examine the role of these projects in exciting students about engineering and motivating their learning.

Wigal, C., & Fomunung, I., & Foster, E., & Goulet, R. (2007, June), The Impact On Students Of Freshman Design Projects Supporting Advanced Courses Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2494

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