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The Use Of Student Generated Lab Plans In The Thermal Sciences

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Unique Laboratory Experiments and Programs

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1335.1 - 11.1335.9



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Paper Authors


Jed Marquart Ohio Northern University

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JED E. MARQUART is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University, where he teaches courses in General Engineering and in the Thermal Sciences. He received a BSME degree from Ohio Northern University and the MS and PhD, both in Aerospace Engineering, from the University of Dayton.

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David Sawyers Ohio Northern University

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DAVID R. SAWYERS, JR. is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University, where he teaches courses in General Engineering and in the Thermal Sciences. He received a BSME degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the MS and PhD, both in Mechanical Engineering, from The University of Notre Dame.

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

The Use of Student-Generated Lab Plans in the Thermal Sciences


Practicing engineers are often required to design experiments that will be carried out by others (who may or may not have engineering degrees). Engineers must be able to clearly define the purpose of an experiment and specify the equipment and procedures needed for successful completion. As a means of developing this ability, mechanical engineering students at Ohio Northern University (ONU) are required to generate their own procedures for experiments in the thermal sciences. Rather than follow a set of pre-determined steps, students must consider how to use the available equipment to meet the specified objective. Students generate their own lab plans, review plans developed by their peers, and ultimately develop experiments that are conducted by other students in the class.

This paper discusses the thermal sciences course sequence, describes the experiments that are performed, and explains how these experiments are implemented in order to achieve the objective described above. The effectiveness of this implementation is evaluated in two ways. First, the two instructors involved evaluate the quality of student-generated lab plans, and identify areas where progress does (and does not) occur as the sequence progresses. Second, a series of self-assessment surveys are given to the students several times during the three-quarter sequence.


The Mechanical Engineering Department at Ohio Northern University currently requires students to take a sequence of five quarter-long courses in the thermal sciences. Three of these courses include laboratory components. These laboratories are designed to: 1. Reinforce and apply theoretical concepts developed in lecture 2. Introduce equipment, instrumentation, and techniques related to thermal and flow measurement 3. Apply knowledge of data acquisition systems, including LabVIEW 4. Develop interpersonal and written communication skills 5. Teach students to design their own experiments using available equipment to achieve a specified objective.

The first four goals can be accomplished with traditional experiments1, in which students follow a specified procedure to generate a clearly-defined set of data. During the first two years of their college careers, students encounter this approach numerous times. The fifth objective, while often an essential skill in professional practice, is seldom considered in introductory labs. This paper discusses efforts by the Mechanical Engineering faculty at ONU to provide a laboratory experience which satisfies all five of these goals by integrating student-generated experimental procedures into the thermal sciences labs.

Marquart, J., & Sawyers, D. (2006, June), The Use Of Student Generated Lab Plans In The Thermal Sciences Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--569

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