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Weaving A Theme Of A Engineering Firm Through The Projects Of Thermal Design Courses

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Energy Projects and Laboratory Ideas

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1411.1 - 9.1411.15



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Paper Authors

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Laura Genik

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Craig Somerton

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

Session 3133

Weaving a Theme of an Engineering Firm through the Projects of Thermal Design Courses Craig W. Somerton, Laura J. Genik Michigan State University/University of Portland


“The Rhino Thermal Engineering Company has recently received a contract to provide a residential construction company with technical support for the mechanical aspects of their projects, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and plumbing. One of the first tasks …”

This statement serves as the introduction for each of the five projects assigned in two thermal design classes (ME 416 Computer Assisted Design of Thermal Systems at Michigan State University and ME 436 Design of Thermal Systems at the University of Portland), taught at two different institutions. Utilizing this theme approach provides a connection among the five projects that have very different learning objectives. This theme approach to these projects provides the students with additional motivation through role playing and also provides the opportunity to introduce them to the business of engineering firms. This use of a theme to connect the five projects in theses courses came about due to student input. During early offerings of the courses, students complained about the disconnect among the projects. Over the years several different themes have been used and a few more are still in the development stage.

This paper continues by presenting the five projects assigned in the courses. The different themes used are then discussed. Next, the details of the five projects associated with one of the themes (residential construction) are provided. Student feedback on this approach has been collected and the paper concludes with its presentation and a summary of the lessons learned through this experience.

Projects and Themes The two thermal design courses (ME 416 at Michigan State University and ME 436 at the University of Portland) are taught at the senior level and have a heat transfer course as a co or prerequisite. The goals of the courses are stated below:

1. Development and practice of design skills as they apply to thermal systems. 2. Development of modeling skills. 3. Development and refining of computer skills

Consistent with theses goals is the strong project orientation of the courses. The five projects address the five major topics of the courses and all of have strong computer orientation that includes either the development of software or the use of existing software.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Genik, L., & Somerton, C. (2004, June), Weaving A Theme Of A Engineering Firm Through The Projects Of Thermal Design Courses Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13757

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