Development of an Undergraduate Multidisciplinary Mechanical Design Laboratory Sequence Based on Faculty Research

Nina Robson, Joseph Morgan, Hassanein Radhi
2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
Researchers have shown that the incorporation of hands-on design projects in the first two years of college provides mastery that increases the likelihood of success in engineering [1] [2] [3] [4][5][6] [7] [8] . Integrating real world design problems, based on faculty on-going research, into the curriculum during the freshman years is without a doubt extremely beneficial; however the process requires a heavy commitment in faculty time and sometimes resources. This paper discusses preliminary
more » ... sults of introducing faculty on-going research to undergraduate students, in a form of a lab sequence, focusing on student-centered approaches such as active cooperative learning. The labs aim to address the need for combining multidisciplinary theoretical knowledge with practical hands-on experience and are specifically focused on involving undergraduate students in research and preparing them for the capstone senior design project class. Each of the labs is related to one or two recently published by the faculty papers, which the students are asked to get familiar with before each lab session. Preliminary results on the learning outcomes, based on students' perception were assessed through anonymous survey questions. Next, the desired learning outcomes from faculty viewpoint, regarding critical thinking, responsibility for one's own learning and intellectual growth were assessed through anonymous survey. The latter required the students to outline the questions that they were asking themselves while working on each project. The preliminary results show that presenting a series of different lab projects, which complement each other, brings to successful results. For the limited time of one semester, the results show students' improved critical thinking, intellectual maturity, as well as taking more responsibility for their own learning. In addition, the inductive methods used in the labs prove efficient not only for learning new tasks, but also in transferring earned skills to tasks of greater difficulty. The next step will be to assess how well the students work under the whole series of lab projects and share our experiences. Here, we would like to note that the lab-based alternative to other undergraduate research engagements is a novel idea and provides interesting perspectives.
doi:10.18260/p.23872 fatcat:pgfkqpumerdttocg63ytyymifq