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Using the Computer as a Tool Across the Curriculum

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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

Digital Simulation Tools in Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1642.1 - 22.1642.12



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Paper Authors


Laura J. Genik Michigan State University

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Dr. Genik teaches in the Thermal Fluid Sciences at Michigan State University at the undergraduate and graduate level.

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Craig W. Somerton Michigan State University

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Craig W. Somerton is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He teaches in the area of thermal engineering including thermodynamics, heat transfer, and thermal design. He has also taught the capstone design course for the department. Dr. Somerton has research interests in computer design of thermal systems, appropriate technology, and application of continuous quality improvement principles to engineering education. He received his B.S. in 1976, his M.S. in 1979, and his Ph.D. in 1982, all in engineering from UCLA.

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Using the Computer as a Tool across the CurriculumAbstractAn introductory course in mathematical tools is a common freshmen engineering course.Students are exposed to various mathematical and computer tools which shouldstrengthen their ability to solve engineering problems in future courses. Examples ofthese tools would be Matlab and Excel. In a review of the current curriculum at a 4 yearinstitution, it was revealed that no current course in the sophomore year utilized thesetools specifically. The students were at liberty to apply their skills with the tools, butwere not required to use them. A concerted effort is being made to adapt the sophomorecurriculum to include the use of these tools working from the basis that the students havegarnered an understanding of them. This also puts the tools into context more then thejust the introductory course was able to accomplish. Specifically, a sophomore levelThermodynamics course is being modified to develop several homework assignmentsthat require the used of the computer as a tool. This modification will also address theABET Mechanical Engineering Program Criteria that requires graduates to possess anability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary forengineering practice and a recognition of the need for and the ability to engage in life-long learning.This paper presents the several different specific tasks that the students were asked toaccomplish in the context of Thermodynamics with the described tools. The studentswere pre and post surveyed with regards to their knowledge base with the described toolsand their application. Resource implications for teaching a course in such a fashion arediscussed. Finally, student feedback to this approach is analyzed.

Genik, L. J., & Somerton, C. W. (2011, June), Using the Computer as a Tool Across the Curriculum Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18572

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