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Web Based Computer Aided Engineering Tutorials Across The Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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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

TIME 6: Web-based Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1413.1 - 9.1413.7

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Jonathan Wickert

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Jack Beuth

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

Web-Based Computer-Aided Engineering Tutorials Across the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Jonathan Wickert and Jack Beuth

Department of Mechanical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA


A skill in demand for graduating engineering students is the ability to combine computational tools, intuition, and fundamentals effectively. Those factors are arguably more critical now than previously because today’s engineers are often expected to make significant design decisions before any product testing can be done. This reality of industrial practice, where engineers fuse computer modeling and physical intuition with design and analysis, challenges the modernization of curricula with respect to familiarizing students with computer-aided engineering software. Such software packages can be used for design, analysis, simulation, and manufacturing.

One difficult issue is the balance between traditional instruction of “engineering science” content and the exposure to computer-aided engineering software packages and their interfaces. We take it as an axiom that the exposure of students to problem-solving using computer-aided engineering (CAE) software should be increased without sacrificing the fundamental course content that is the mainstay of engineering curricula. We have found that self-paced and web-led CAE tutorials are a useful means for balancing traditional content and training on CAE software (in particular, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, ANSYS, Solidworks, Adams, and Matlab). In this paper, we discuss web-based modules for a variety of mechanical engineering courses. The intention of the effort is for students’ use of the software packages to be transparently overlaid onto a traditional lecture-based curriculum. In the following sections, we discuss their usage in a required introductory course at the freshmen level and in required and elective courses offered to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

CAE Projects in a Freshmen-Level Mechanical Engineering Course

In 1991, Carnegie Mellon instituted major changes in its curriculum for first-year students in the college of engineering. In particular, first-year students began enrolling in discipline-specific introductory engineering courses1. Rather than expose first-year students to engineering through seminars or a course which would survey all of the traditional fields, the alternative approach was taken in which each engineering department began offering a core introductory course. Engineering students complete two such courses during their first year, and after having been thus exposed in some depth to two fields, students declare a major. In 1996, a semester-long

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

Wickert, J., & Beuth, J. (2004, June), Web Based Computer Aided Engineering Tutorials Across The Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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