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Work in Progress: Incorporating the Engineering Design Process to Solve Real-Life Programming Problems in an Introductory Engineering Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Curricular Innovations 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Aidsa I. Santiago-Roman University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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Dr. Aidsa I. Santiago-Román is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Sciences and Materials (CIIM) Department at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). Dr. Santiago earned a BA and MS in Industrial Engineering from UPRM and Ph.D in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Dr. Santiago has over 20 years of experience in academia and is currently the Department Head of the CIIM Department. She's also the founder and advisor of the first student chapter of the ASEE in Puerto Rico. Her primary research interests include investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering sciences, especially for underrepresented populations. She also works in the development and evaluation of various engineering curriculum and courses at UPRM applying the outcome-based educational framework.

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Jairo Andres Agudelo University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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I have a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Quindío (Colombia, 2004), as well as a Master's and PhD from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM, 2014). My specialty lies in Structural Engineering. My teaching experience has been acquired throughout my academic and professional career. During the last two years, I have been teaching Algorithms and Programming, Material Mechanics I, and Engineering Graphics courses as an Assistant professor at the Department of Engineering Sciences and Materials at the UPRM. I was an instructor for five years and taught Mathematic Methods for Engineers in the UPRM Civil Engineering and Surveying Department. I was also an assistant professor at Caribbean University (CU) at Ponce, PR, where I taught Statics, Dynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Structural Analysis courses. In the University of Quindío, I taught Statics and Physics I courses.

My academic life has given me the opportunity to develop different research projects with various themes such as seismic vulnerability and risk; structural behavior of building subjected to seismic, wind and water loads and seismic isolation devices for buildings. I am currently working in some research projects related to engineering education with professors from the department in order to develop this area in the university.

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Arturo Ponce P.E. University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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Arturo Ponce has a BS in Computer Engineering and a MS in Electrical Engineering from UPR Mayaguez. He has a PhD in Computer Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University. He is an associate professor at the at the UPR Mayaguez Engineering Sciences and Materials Department. He has done has done institutional research work at UPR Mayaguez and also has worked in the ABET accreditation process for the School of Engineering .

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For many students, the concepts involved in courses about algorithm and programming are very difficult to understand. Many professors pay more attention to the programming skills and rules that are not as critical for students in their academic career in engineering. As a result, students have high proficiencies for coding but are presenting difficulty in the process of understanding, analyzing, and solving problems, therefore being unable to transfer the acquired knowledge into real-life problems.

In this paper we present preliminary results of incorporating the engineering design process into the introductory engineering programming course to solve real-life problems. This methodology has been implemented for the past two years, so that students were able to develop problem-solving skills through the application of the design process and algorithmic concepts, resulting in the completion of a project that impacted various offices at the university and/or community industries. To complete this project, first students needed to identify a possible topic applicable for the course. Then they needed to understand the problem at the site and design a solution to satisfy their needs. Also, they generated a user manual that allows office personnel to make reference as needed, since once students graduate, they are not available to answer questions. Finally, students installed the software in a computer designated to be used and train the personnel to use the program.

Professors that implemented this approach perceived an increase in students’ motivation throughout the course. To validate this assumption, a statistical analysis was conducted to compare students’ performance on the course by comparing two groups: a control group that represents traditional teaching approaches and the experimental group that incorporated the design process in the methodology students' followed to design their solutions. Statistical results of overall students’ evaluations for both groups validated these perceptions.

Santiago-Roman, A. I., & Agudelo, J. A., & Ponce, A. (2017, June), Work in Progress: Incorporating the Engineering Design Process to Solve Real-Life Programming Problems in an Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29163

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