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Time Keeping Experiments For A Mechanical Engineering Education Laboratory Sequence

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Outstanding Contributions to Mechanical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1271.1 - 14.1271.19



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Paper Authors

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John Wagner Clemson University

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Katie Knaub National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors

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

Time Keeping Experiments for a Mechanical Engineering Education Laboratory Sequence

Abstract The evolution of science and technology throughout history parallels the development of time keeping devices which assist mankind in measuring and coordinating their daily schedules. The earliest clocks used the natural behavior of the sun, sand, and water to approximate fixed time intervals. In the medieval period, mechanical clocks were introduced that were driven by weights and springs which offered greater time accuracy due to improved design and materials. In the last century, electric motor driven clocks and digital circuits have allowed for widespread distribution of clock devices to many homes and individuals. In this paper, a series of eight laboratory experiments have been created which use a time keeping theme to introduce basic mechanical and electrical engineering concepts, while offering the opportunity to weave societal implications into the discussions. These bench top and numerical studies include clock movements, pendulums, vibration and acoustic analysis, material properties, circuit breadboards, microprocessor programming, computer simulation, and artistic water clocks. For each experiment, the learning objectives, equipment and materials, and laboratory procedures are listed. To determine the learning effectiveness of each experiment, an assessment tool will be used to gather student feedback for laboratory improvement. Finally, these experiments can also be integrated into academic programs that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts within a societal context.

1.0 Introduction The common clock, whether mechanical, electric or electronic, represents a dynamic system whose precision and sophistication has evolved with society as well as the interpretation of time. A clock generally contains a host of scientific and engineering principles which make them an ideal system for study by students since they represent practical real world applications. The span of clock technology includes physics (pendulums), fluids (water, sand), metallurgy (springs, cases), mechanisms (gear trains, levers), thermodynamics (air or Atmos clock), feedback control (escapement), mathematics (harmonic motion), electric motors, electronics (clock chip), computer programming (digital clock), and radioactive decay (atomic clock). Time keeping devices fulfill an important societal by allowing the coordination of personal, commerce, and transportation activities. It has been suggested by Mumford1 that “the clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the modern industrial age”. Given the familiarity and general knowledge of clocks by students and people of all ages, these time keeping devices represent an ideal medium for engineering discovery and creativity through focused laboratory experiments. A short review of selected mechanical engineering education laboratories and clock learning materials will be presented. Knight and McDonald2 discussed the senior level mechanical engineering laboratory at the University of Tennessee which seeks to balance mechanical and thermal system experiments. The identification of learning objectives within the mechanical engineering laboratory sequence at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been addressed by Layton et al.3. Yoder et al.4 discussed a revised senior control systems engineering laboratory with student assessment at Ohio Northern University. A required University of Texas at Arlington mechanical and aerospace engineering laboratory course offers an experience which

Wagner, J., & Knaub, K. (2009, June), Time Keeping Experiments For A Mechanical Engineering Education Laboratory Sequence Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4758

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