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The State Of Mechanical Engineering Design Education: Results Of A Web Based Survey

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1170.1 - 8.1170.10



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Paper Authors

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William Keat

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Michael Larson

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

Session 2366

The State of Mechanical Engineering Design Education: Results of a Web-based Survey

Michael C. Larson, William D. Keat

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA / Union College, Schenectady, NY


A web-based survey of mechanical engineering programs was conducted, with the assistance of ASME, to assess the manner in which design is spread across the curriculum. Forty-six schools responded to the survey, which consisted of 18 questions per design course identified by the school. Specific emphases were given to defining: (1) the nature of the freshman design experience, (2) the nature of the senior capstone experience, (3) the level of integration of computer-aided design software in courses and (4) the degree to which hands-on projects are employed.


The current state of mechanical engineering design education is the product of a number of factors. ABET requirements, arising in part from perceptions of the needs of industry, have certainly played a role. Widespread changes in higher education (e.g. economic forces, demographics, new computing tools) have also affected how design education is delivered. To help quantify discussions concerning adequacy of contemporary design education in light of industry’s needs and academia’s constraints, we have undertaken this national survey.

A baseline understanding of current curricula can help relieve potential anxiety in mechanical engineering programs during the transition to ABET’s EC2000 evaluation criteria with regard to design content. Under the old accreditation procedures, universities were provided quantitative guidelines for adequate inclusion of design topics in the curriculum. While that policy may have resulted in a degree of uniformity and may have inhibited innovation, it did provide a measure of security. Now that ABET has adopted a more flexible approach in permitting programs to set the level of design concentration in the curriculum to correspond with published objectives and outcomes, there is a need to understand what the norms are across the country as schools begin to implement curricular innovations.

Other surveys have largely focused on prioritization of potential topics related to design such as teamwork, creativity, ability to read drawings, and knowledge of tolerancing. For example, in a

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Keat, W., & Larson, M. (2003, June), The State Of Mechanical Engineering Design Education: Results Of A Web Based Survey Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11792

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