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Using a Project-Based Learning Approach to Teach Mechanical Design to First-Year Engineering Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Active and Project-Based Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1603.1 - 22.1603.9



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Paper Authors


Eric Constans Rowan University

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Eric Constans is the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering program at Rowan University. His research interests include engineering education, acoustics, and design optimization.

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Jennifer Kadlowec Rowan University

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Using a Project-Based Learning Approach to Teach Mechanical Design toFirst-Year Engineering StudentsThe Rowan University Mechanical Engineering program has recently adopted a new curriculum,based on more than a decade of experience and lessons learned. One important change was theincrease in time allotted for project-based learning in each of the core areas: thermal-fluid sciences,mechanical design, and system dynamics/control. A major shortcoming of the previous curriculum(and of most traditional curricula) was that students were not exposed to “real” mechanicalengineering until the second semester of sophomore year – by this time many students had switchedout of mechanical engineering altogether. To remedy this, and as an aid to retention, we haveimplemented a true mechanical design course in the first semester of freshman year. Since mostmechanical design courses do not require differential equations, placement of the course into thefreshman year seemed appropriate. In addition, the Rowan mechanical design course has twoambitious hands-on design projects that (it is hoped) will engage students and improve retention.This paper will describe the results of placing a mechanical design course so early in the curriculum,and will provide details on how the course was tailored to suit students recently arrived from highschool.

Constans, E., & Kadlowec, J. (2011, June), Using a Project-Based Learning Approach to Teach Mechanical Design to First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18848

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