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Time and Cost Analysis of Implementing a Mechatronic Experience in an Engineering Technology Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Novel Teaching Methods In Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


John R Haughery Iowa State University

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John Haughery is currently a graduate fellow in the department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, where he is pursuing a PhD in Industrial and Agricultural Technology. His technical experience and interests include electrical energy systems, industrial controls, and mechatronics. Currently he is researching the integration of mechatronic-based projects into freshman engineering and technology curricula with the intent of increasing student engagement. John received his BS in Industrial Technology: Electronic/Control Systems from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in 2006, after which he spent over eight years as a control systems engineer and project manager at Multi-Dimensional Integration. Most recently, he received his MS in Engineering and Technology Management from Morehead State University in 2014.

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D. Raj Raman Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Raj Raman is Professor and Associate Chair for Teaching in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) Department at Iowa State University, where he is also University Education Program Director and Testbed Champion for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), Director of Graduate Education for the Interdepartmental Graduate Minor in Biorenewable Chemicals, and Education Programs Co-Leader for the USDA-AFRI project CenUSA Sustainable Production and Distribution of Biofuels for the Central USA. He is a licensed Professional Engineer who earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University. Prior to coming to Iowa State in 2006, he was a faculty member at the University of Tennessee for over twelve years.

Raman enjoys teaching and has taught courses including freshmen engineering (mechanics and computer programming – to classes ranging in size from 20 to 500+), sophomore and junior level courses on mass and energy balance applications to biological systems engineering, numerical methods, electric power and electronics for technology students, senior design, as well as a long-standing residential/online graduate course on the fundamentals of biorenewable resources and technology. He believes well trained, curious, thoughtful people are crucial to a university’s research effort, and similarly to the function and survival of society. For this reason, the overarching goal of his teaching is to impart the core content needed by the students, and to do so while encouraging inquisition and higher levels of thought. He has secured competitive funds to support his teaching efforts – from university, industry, and federal sources – and for his efforts has received departmental, college, and national teaching honors including the Farrall Young Educator Award given by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, and an invitation to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s 2013 Frontiers in Engineering Education Conference.

Raman chairs the ABE Engineering Curriculum Committee and in that role oversaw the successful 2012 ABET accreditation visit for both the Agricultural Engineering (AE) and Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) degree programs. Upon arriving at ISU in 2006, he led the development of the BSE program, and this program now enrolls ~100 students. Raman also runs multiple summer research internship programs through his roles in CBiRC and CenUSA. In his role as Pyrone Testbed Champion for CBiRC, Raman and his students have developed early-stage technoeconomic models of bioprocessing systems. His graduate students have gone on to faculty positions at Purdue and the University of Georgia, and to engineering leadership positions at companies including Cargill, Nestle, and Merck.

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Using an observational methodology, we studied the time and cost associated with developing and piloting a mechatronic experience in a first-year undergraduate engineering technology course. Our exploratory study included a sample size of 48 students across two sections of an existing course and analyzed the categories of capital, support staff, and instructor time and cost. Our capital purchases totaled ~$5,000, or ~$104 per student. Analyzing the capital verse capacity (class size) of our study, we found it to follow the chemical process industry’s common 0.6 economies of scale model. In contrast, support staff and instructor time and cost were not proportional to class capacity, but were primarily driven by the discrete stepped requirement of one teaching assistant per 50 students. Finally, setting our capital, support staff, and instructor costs as a function of class size, we projected a ~$4,000 per semester total cost, with a step size of ~$450 at each additional increment of 50 students.

Haughery, J. R., & Raman, D. R. (2016, June), Time and Cost Analysis of Implementing a Mechatronic Experience in an Engineering Technology Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27041

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