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Work in Progress: Developing Senior Experimental Design Course Projects Involving the Use of a Smartphone

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1385.1 - 24.1385.7



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Paper Authors


Denise H. Bauer University of Idaho, Moscow

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Dr. Denise Bauer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Idaho. Dr. Bauer teaches both first-year and senior-level courses and is developing a new engineering course for first-year students that are under-prepared in math. Her main research area is Human Factors and Ergonomics where she is currently working on a pedestrian guidance system for the visually impaired. She is also working on several initiatives to improve the undergraduate experience in the College of Engineering and the retention rates of under-served students (women, underrepresented minorities, and first-generation students).

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Edwin M. Odom University of Idaho, Moscow

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Dr. Odom teaches courses that include introductory CAD, advanced CAD, mechanics of materials, machine design, experimental stress analysis and manufacturing technical electives within the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Idaho.

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Work in Progress: Using a Mobile Computing Device in a Senior Capstone Experimental Design CourseThe Mechanical Engineering senior laboratory course is a project-based course that focuses onexperimental design. This requires seniors to design, perform and analyze their own experiments.This semester two student teams were tasked to develop an experiment to obtain engineeringdata on human balance. The physical resources provided to the students include an iPad (or theirpersonal Smartphone), a commercially available single plane balance board (wobble board), anda very small budget to purchase apps. The seed research questions provided to the students are“what is human balance? and “can balance be measured and thereby understood? Theseengineering students are researching these questions along with their own questions. Theseinclude the difference if any between front-to-back versus side-to-side balance, does it changeover time, i.e., does the mere act of measuring it influence future measurements, does mildfatigue change balance and if so can it be measured? Once the questions are formed the studentswill then design the experiments to obtain data. In addition, the students must learn how to usethe “apps” and think about sampling rates, length of experiment, data recording andtransmission. Once the data is transferred to the desk top, it must be transformed into somethinguseful. Some concepts they will explore in the process will be the use of the iPad/Smartphoneaccelerometers and gyroscopes and the idea of working with human subjects. The results thestudents hope to achieve this semester are what a balance profile looks like, discovering howmuch movement there still is even if the person appears to be balanced, how some factors suchas gender, body mass index, and gender may affect balance, and being able to design asuccessful experiment. Not only will the results benefit the current students, but thedepartment/course as well since similar projects could be used in future course offerings. Thiswould permit low-cost projects each semester that take advantage of iPad and Smartphonetechnology while still allowing students to design experiments related to engineering concepts.

Bauer, D. H., & Odom, E. M. (2014, June), Work in Progress: Developing Senior Experimental Design Course Projects Involving the Use of a Smartphone Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23318

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