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Tool And Safety Training As Part Of Engineering Design Education

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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

Assessing Design Coursework I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1495.1 - 12.1495.12



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Paper Authors

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Phillip du Plessix University of Calgary

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Graham Armitage University of Calgary

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Kara Chomistek University of Calgary

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Clifton Johnston University of Calgary

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Daryl Caswell University of Calgary

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Mohamed Nazir University of Calgary

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Marjan Eggermont University of Calgary

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Diane Douglas University of Calgary

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Brigit Knecht University of Calgary

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

Tool and Safety Training as Part of Engineering Design Education


A tool and safety training program has been developed and implemented at the University of Calgary, Schulich School of Engineering for the first year design and communication courses. These courses promote a hands-on, inquiry based learning environment where students build and test a variety of projects in a dynamic, open-ended curriculum. To allow for a truly hands-on design experience, the laboratories are equipped with tool chests containing various hand and power tools, available for student use during the construction and testing of their projects. Despite the fact that there have been few injuries in the design laboratories, it became clear through observations of students and instructors that many of the tools were being used incorrectly. Allowing for student use of hand tools in the laboratory comes with inherent safety hazards and a need for some form of training. Tool training was not previously available in the laboratories, and students would have to seek out personal instruction if they wished to learn proper technique and operation of a tool. From both an educational and a liability point of view, safe tool use has become a priority. This paper will examine the role of tools in engineering education, review relevant writings on the topic, outline the methodology developed for the University of Calgary’s first year engineering design course, and evaluate the impact of the implementation on the students. As one reviewer noted, “It saddens me to think that universities are teaching these basic skills that, in previous generations, were covered in grades 6-9.”

The Role of Tools In Teaching

Since the mid 1990’s, there has been significant pressure applied to engineering educators by accreditation boards to re-vitalize the real-world, open-ended, hands-on nature of engineering1. Undergraduate engineers are now being taught to design for the man-made environments in which they live – environments which widely require tools to be manipulated. Can we expect students to understand the process of hands-on design if they cannot engage in it? Although the first year design and communication course at the Schulich School of Engineering is not a technical based course, it is one of the few opportunities students have to become exposed to basic hand tools during their undergraduate academic careers. As stated by Gaba, “The goal of education is typically to teach or improve conceptual understanding or to introduce individual skills. For training, the goal is to implement or improve specific skills and behaviors needed to accomplish a real world job” 2. Although technical skills are not a focus of this course, becoming familiar with as many aspects of design engineering as possible is, and knowledge about basic tools is relevant to a very large number of engineering applications. These applications include tolerancing, dimensioning, and familiarity with surface finish, material removal rates, manufacturing costs, interfacing theory and safety implications of designed products. Most engineering students enter into their first year with very limited knowledge of how to use basic hand tools, and are graduating in the same manner. A survey conducted on a sample of first year engineers attending the University of Calgary revealed that approximately 17% of students enter into their undergraduate with absolutely no previous basic hand tool training. As part of an

du Plessix, P., & Armitage, G., & Chomistek, K., & Johnston, C., & Caswell, D., & Nazir, M., & Eggermont, M., & Douglas, D., & Knecht, B. (2007, June), Tool And Safety Training As Part Of Engineering Design Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2309

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