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Who Creates And Develops First Year Engineering Design Activities?

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Administering First-Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1372.1 - 15.1372.17



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Paper Authors

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Gretchen Hein Michigan Technological University

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Amber Kemppainen Michigan Technological University

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Susan Amato-Henderson Michigan Technological University

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Jason Keith Michigan Technological University

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Melissa Roberts Michigan Technological University

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

Who Creates and Develops First-Year Engineering Design Activities?

Abstract The development and implementation of design activities for first-year engineering students present unique challenges that include variable student backgrounds and knowledge and lack of engineering experience and education. At Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), we had three different groups (faculty, graduate students and upper level undergraduate students) develop design activities. These activities were developed for the ENG1001/1100 course sequence for first-year students who were enrolled in pre-calculus as their first math course at Michigan Tech as part of an NSF CCLI Phase 1 grant (DUE: 0836861). All groups developed engineering activities that included a: Design/Model/Build sequence, Matlab mathematical model, spreadsheet analyses, and technical communication of their activities. For the components listed previously, lectures and class activities, project description and deliverables and example Matlab codes were developed for the instructors of the course. The design sequences developed were: Biomechanics (graduate student), Wind Energy (upper-level undergraduates as part of their Enterprise experience and under faculty guidance), and Geothermal Energy (first-year engineering faculty). The design sequences begin in ENG1001 where students design/construct a model of their design. The designs are improved upon and analyzed further in ENG1100 and are integrated with other course topics (i.e.: sustainability, engineering ethics). This paper outlines the various projects and the activities developed. It will describe the challenges and advantages each group encountered throughout the development process. Introduction First-year engineering students enter programs with varying abilities and interests. This variability increases when universities have common first-year programs, and it creates a unique opportunity when developing design projects and activities for these students. Over the past several years, many universities and programs have investigated and implemented different strategies. Like Michigan Tech, many institutions have common first-year engineering programs and have their students complete design projects or develop engineering design and project skills. For the most part, these activities have been developed by university faculty. In 2002, faculty at the University of Manchester developed a hovercraft design project utilizing problem-based learning1. This two week project included researching how a hovercraft works and developing and testing a Visual Basic (VBA) simulation. Additionally, students constructed a scaled-down version of a hovercraft and demonstrated its performance through an obstacle course. The authors stated that the project must be complex enough to challenge most of the students and that the programming portion of the project had to be divided into individual components such that all team members participated in the programming aspect. Other universities are focusing on the team aspect of design work. The University of Maryland has developed a modular team training program where faculty can choose the level of training: introductory, intermediate and advanced based on the level of the students within the course.2

Hein, G., & Kemppainen, A., & Amato-Henderson, S., & Keith, J., & Roberts, M. (2010, June), Who Creates And Develops First Year Engineering Design Activities? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15827

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