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Using Cartoons to Enhance Engineering Course Concepts

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 11

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Edward James Diehl P.E. University of Hartford Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Diehl received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2016, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer at Hartford in 1996, and BS in Marine Engineering Systems at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He worked as a Professional Engineer in the maritime industry for 17 years and taught mechanical engineering courses for the past 8 years. His research interests include simulation of mechanical vibration in gear systems for condition monitoring and engineering pedagogy.

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Cartoons, while often associated with a younger audience, can assist some college engineering students in making relatable connections to course concepts and breaking down barriers to understanding. Intermediate engineering courses such as Dynamics and Fluid Mechanics, typically taken sophomore and junior year, contain numerous essential ideas that students must completely understand and build upon as the courses progress and retain for follow-on classes senior year. Cartoons, if sufficiently relevant and memorable, can help a portion of the engineering student population “grasp and retain” concepts. This paper describes experience creating and using original cartoon characters in teaching Dynamics and Fluid Mechanics. Development of the characters, adapting them for each concept throughout the semesters, and examples where they are incorporated in the class notes, learning management system, classroom slides and classroom whiteboard work are described. Some student feedback is presented, and future research to quantify effectiveness is proposed. Lessons learned and advice for other instructors wishing to incorporate cartoons into their lessons is also provided.

Diehl, E. J. (2018, June), Using Cartoons to Enhance Engineering Course Concepts Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31200

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