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Using Modeling And Simulation Projects To Meet Learning Objectives In An Upper Level Course In System Dynamics

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Computed Simulation and Animation

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1251.1 - 8.1251.13

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Paper Authors

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Richard Layton

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

Session 2320

Using Modeling and Simulation Projects to Meet Learning Objectives in an Upper-Level Course in System Dynamics

Richard A. Layton Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Modeling and simulation projects in an upper-level system-dynamics course are described with an emphasis on using these projects to support course learning objectives. Course-specific objectives include: modeling engineering systems using Lagrange’s equation; using the Dymola software package to solve the resulting nonlinear differential-algebraic equations; and validating simulation results. General educational objectives include: reproducing published work and comparing and interpreting the results; close reading for understanding; critical reading to identify unstated assumptions and incomplete development, and responding to such deficiencies; and developing a project topic, scope of work, and final report consistent with professional standards. The course and projects are described and examples of student work are given. The discussion concludes with a summary of student responses and possible drawbacks to the approach and of how project outcomes support the learning objectives.

1. Introduction

Projects, projects everywhere! Students are doing projects in courses all across the engineering curriculum. Depending on the course level, freshman to graduate, different learning objectives can be met using projects, some relating to the specific content of a course and others relating to broader goals of an engineering education. In upper-level courses, faculty have the opportunity to set high standards for project deliverables, meeting one of the primary goals of an undergraduate engineering education, that of preparing students to enter either engineering practice or graduate school. In either case, the experience of producing project results and reports that are technically thorough and coherently written is a valuable one.

This paper describes modeling and simulation projects in an upper-level mechanical engineering course and the manner in which these projects support a variety of learning objectives.

2. Course description

The course is ME597 Modeling and Simulation of Dynamic Systems, an elective open to graduate and undergraduate students in math, science, and engineering. The course presents a unified approach for modeling and simulating multidisciplinary engineering systems. The text is by Layton [1]. Detailed course information is available at the course website [2] and at the

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Layton, R. (2003, June), Using Modeling And Simulation Projects To Meet Learning Objectives In An Upper Level Course In System Dynamics Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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