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Using A Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Course For Assessment

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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

Meeting ABET Requirements

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1533.1 - 12.1533.18



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Paper Authors


Kenneth Van Treuren Baylor University

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Ken Van Treuren is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. He received his B. S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and his M. S. in Engineering from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. After serving as USAF pilot in KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft, he completed his DPhil in Engineering Sciences at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and returned to the USAF Academy to teach heat transfer and propulsion systems. At Baylor University, he teaches courses in laboratory techniques, fluid mechanics, energy systems, aeronautics, and propulsion systems, as well as freshman engineering. Research interests include experimental convective heat transfer as applied to HVAC and gas turbine systems.

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

Using a Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Course for Assessment


This paper characterizes the mechanical engineering laboratory course taught at Baylor University and how this course is used to support ABET outcomes b) design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data, g) communicate effectively, and k) use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. As a course typically taken in the last semester of their senior year, students review topics taught in the fluids/thermodynamics/heat transfer stem of the mechanical engineering program, as well as learn new experimental techniques. For the first half of the course, each week consists of a one hour lecture, a three hour practical measurement/demonstration session (often involving calibration techniques) and a three hour laboratory usually involving the measurement techniques from that week’s measurement/demonstration session. The last half of the course is a laboratory project, accomplished in teams of two or three. For the laboratory project, the students initially do a test plan written report and presentation early in the course to get the necessary background for the project. This enables the students to purchase required materials and begin fabrication, if necessary, for the final project. The course ends with a final project report and a formal final briefing. While the workload on the part of the professor is demanding, the course was highly praised during the last two ABET accreditation visits. Student feedback from industry also confirms the usefulness of such a course. The assessment tools used in this course will be discussed in the context of the three ABET outcomes to be measured.


Assessment is an important process that must be accomplished for all mechanical engineering programs. Many programs directly use ABET Criterion a-k to assess outcomes and identify where these outcomes are found in their programs. Baylor University adopted the ABET outcomes in preparation for its recent ABET assessment. Using the ABET outcomes, the faculty examined their courses for current assessment tools which supported the a-k outcomes. It was found that most of the senior level courses, especially the senior design and the senior mechanical laboratory course, could be used to satisfy nearly all of the outcomes. It was natural that senior level courses should exhibit the outcomes because these types of courses show how seniors demonstrate required skills or abilities. The current course, EGR 4335 Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (ME Lab), specifically supported five of the 14 outcomes: a, b, e, g, and k. The assessment tools comprised prelab homework, exams, an experimental design project, written reports, oral presentations and team/peer evaluation. The senior capstone design course, taken in addition to ME Lab, accounted for another seven outcomes. It was decided by the faculty that one or two courses are not sufficient to demonstrate the necessary assessment of the program outcomes. There were several outcomes, though, which made more sense to be assessed by a laboratory course. For instance, all accredited engineering programs must have a component of experimental design in their curriculum. ABET Criterion 3b states “Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data1.” How does one achieve such a desirable

Van Treuren, K. (2007, June), Using A Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Course For Assessment Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1740

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