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Using Design To Teach Freshman Engineering

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.690.1 - 5.690.11



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Paper Authors

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Nicole DeJong

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Ken Van Treuren

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Don Farris

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Cindy Fry

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

Session 2253

Using Design to Teach Freshman Engineering Nicole C. DeJong, Ph.D., Kenneth W. Van Treuren, Ph.D., Donald R. Farris, Ph.D., Cynthia C. Fry, M.S. Baylor University


Most freshmen enter the university with a limited understanding of what engineering is and what engineers do. Baylor University’s first-semester freshman Introduction to Engineering course informs the students about the engineering profession and equips them with some of the basic skills and tools necessary for success. These skills include technical drawing, use of spreadsheets, and data collection and analysis. The students ultimately develop their confidence in problem solving and design skills using a balsa wood bridge design project. The skills, tools, and techniques developed during the semester in class and in laboratories are applied to the design and construction of the bridge. Students, operating in teams of three to five, also learn to work with their peers. The teams are given a Request for Proposals (RFP) and allowed to exercise creativity within the scope of the RFP. Students progress through the design process (concept, preliminary, and final phases) using both written and oral communication. The final grade of the design process is based on their prototype and on written and oral presentations. At the conclusion of the semester, the teams test their bridges to destruction to determine which bridge holds the maximum load. A student peer assessment of the project is used and feedback is given to each student. The design project reinforces skills taught in the classroom and labs and motivates the students to pursue engineering as a career.


The Introduction to Engineering course offered at Baylor University is intended to provide an overview of the profession of engineering, the engineering educational experience, and the engineering program at Baylor University. It also provides students with some skills and tools needed as they progress through the program. The course seeks to accomplish these purposes through discussions, demonstrations, laboratory activities, interaction between faculty and students, engineering problem solving, and the use of engineering analysis and design techniques. The objectives of the course are

• To provide career guidance and motivation for new engineering students • To build a sense of community among engineering students and faculty • To provide students with experience in engineering problem solving • To develop some basic analytical and design skills needed by engineers, and • To introduce Computer Aided Design (CAD)

The design project reinforces many of the topics in the course. Its completion is the culmination of the semester’s work, and it is a first introduction to the engineering design process, as well as

DeJong, N., & Van Treuren, K., & Farris, D., & Fry, C. (2000, June), Using Design To Teach Freshman Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8808

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