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Utilize Project to Help Students Learning in Mechanical Vibration Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Gloria Guohua Ma Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Gloria Ma is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She has been teaching robotics with Lego Mindstorm to ME freshmen for several years. She is actively involved in community services of offering robotics workshops to middle- and high-school girls. Her research interests are dynamics and system modeling, geometry modeling, project based engineering design, and robotics in manufacturing.

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Xiaobin Le P.E. Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Professor, Ph.D, PE., Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA 02115, Phone: 617-989-4223, Email:, Specialization in Computer Aided Design, Mechanical Design, Finite Element Analysis, Fatigue Design, Solid Mechanics and Engineering Reliability

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Mechanical Vibration has been a three credit required course by the Mechanical Engineering program at Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) since Spring 2014. Many students struggle in this course because of two reasons:1) the level of math involved; vibration course needs to solve differential equations. While most students took differential equations course in their sophomore year, there is a huge time gap. 2) No lab unit; students have difficulty connecting the motion of the system and equations learned in class. A vibration project was introduced in Spring 2017 to overcome the shortage of labs. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the principles and multiple computational techniques of real vibrating systems. Students choose one of the two proposed systems: a spring-mass-damper system or a harmonically excited spring-mass system and work in groups (3 members) to build the prototype with a budget of $50. The groups then compare the vibration characteristics of their system to those calculated analytically and computationally. As a result, most groups worked with the first choice – a single degree of freedom free vibration system. Many groups built their system using household items and various interesting forms were designed. The survey showed the project helped students grasp a better understanding of real-life vibrations, which an engineer would have to put time into modeling variations of said systems. One of the student projects was further developed as a demonstration of free and forced vibration in the course. This paper presents the project students designed, the challenges they faced, and the benefits they achieved from this project.

Ma, G. G., & Le, X. (2019, June), Utilize Project to Help Students Learning in Mechanical Vibration Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33525

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