Asee peer logo

Which prototyping skills should we teach in first-year design? The answer is as few as possible

Download Paper |


2020 First-Year Engineering Experience


East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 26, 2020

Start Date

July 26, 2020

End Date

July 28, 2020

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Matthew Wettergreen Rice University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Matthew Wettergreen is an Associate Teaching Professor in Engineering at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University.

visit author page

author page

Joshua Brandel

Download Paper |


Engineering design teams are most successful when members possess a broad range of skills to tackle a project. Instructors of design courses are challenged to select and teach the most important skills they believe will be useful for students now and in the future. Some skills, including teaming and engineering design process skills, can be acquired in a short period of time by applying evidence based training models. But in terms of prototyping, since there are so many tools and machines available, the question arises of which are truly critical to student success. In first-year design at Rice University, a course that has existed for almost ten years, we aim to teach students only the prototyping skills needed to complete their projects. Students participate in just three workshops that are prototyping related, two of which are required (hand tools and electronics) and an optional third (CAD). By recording student prototyping and measuring experience gains, we have investigated how skills contribute to project completion. The results illustrate that the question for first-year design education is not how many prototyping skills can be taught, but how few an instructor can get away with.

Wettergreen, M., & Brandel, J. (2020, July), Which prototyping skills should we teach in first-year design? The answer is as few as possible Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. 10.18260/1-2--35784

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015