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Using Distinctive Student Engagement Elements in a Technical Elective Course

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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 5

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Rambod Rayegan Prairie View A&M University

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Rambod Rayegan is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Department at Prairie view A & M University. He has a strong background in conducting research in building energy efficiency and renewable power generation for buildings. He served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering at University of North Texas before joining PVAMU. He oversaw the research in the Zero Energy Laboratory at UNT and worked as a researcher at UNT in the sustainable energy area. He has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Florida International University. He has been member with prestigious Honor Societies such as Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi and Golden Key. He has published number of conference, Journal papers and book chapters in energy and sustainability area. He is a reviewer of several Journals in energy efficiency area. He is a member of the Editorial Board of ASME Early Career Technical Journal. Raised in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Rayegan now lives in Houston. He has served as an instructor at Semnan University, Iran for 5 years. He was selected as the best teacher of the Mechanical Engineering Department by students during 2002-2003 academic year and the best senior project supervisor in 2003-2004 academic year. He has served as a consultant in three companies in the field of air conditioning and hydraulic power plants.

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Karla C. Lewis Ph.D. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, SERVE Center

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Dr. Karla C. Lewis has been with SERVE Center for over fourteen years and served as a Project Director with SERVE’s Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast (2006 – 2011). In this role, she supervised the work of the SERVE Center State Liaisons (senior staff assigned to each southeast state) and worked collaboratively with them to understand and respond to state educational agency (SEA) needs. Currently, her work focuses on evaluations of Early College High School projects, student support services, and STEM initiatives. She also co-directs the Nonprofit Evaluation Support Program (NESP). She has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed Post- Doctoral work in family engagement at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University

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A new software-assisted, project-based technical elective course and its associated laboratory (BEELab) in building energy efficiency and green building design has been developed and implemented. The primary goals of this project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), are to engage mechanical engineering students in the learning process and to make them prepared for the workforce in building-related fields. Distinctive elements that differentiate this elective course from traditional elective courses are: (a) incorporating applied software training and (b) making the course experiential and project-based (c) enhancing students’ interaction with the related industry through guest speaker and field trip. The course was implemented for the first time in Fall 2016 in a minority serving university. The data to evaluate the success level of the project was collected via: (a) pre- and post-implementation interviews, (b) classroom observations, (c) student focus groups, and (d) pre- and post-implementation student surveys. Student survey responses at the end of the semester indicated that the use of, and exposure to, the engineering software was the highest ranked class feature/activity in terms of the value added to the elective course. Furthermore, during the focus group, students mentioned that their work with the simulation software helped them make a connection to the energy efficiency concepts they had been learning. The feedback on the BEELab was overwhelmingly positive. According to the survey and focus group data, overall, students indicated that they were provided with an opportunity to work with modern, well-designed equipment that should increase their marketability and, ultimately, give them an advantage in their transition to the workforce. Students provided positive remarks about the field trip. Many students mentioned this as a “real-world connection.” During the focus group, the students stated that they enjoyed the guest speaker and thought she imparted some “real-world” information. They were able to connect her work to what they were learning in the course and current issues like climate change. In three of the ten ABET-required domains, student responses suggest that their abilities improved significantly. Due to the fact that so many students in the class were seniors (and therefore, would be expected to demonstrate many of the technical and non-technical ABET foundational outcomes prior to graduation), it is not surprising that, overall, student reported significant pre- and post-change on only 3 out of 10 items regarding their skills/abilities.

Rayegan, R., & Lewis, K. C. (2018, June), Using Distinctive Student Engagement Elements in a Technical Elective Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31203

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