Fuel Cells And Discovery Oriented Instruction

Camille George
2004 Annual Conference Proceedings   unpublished
Fuel cells and the hydrogen economy are mentioned in every media outlet. However, the average graduating mechanical engineer does not know any more about fuel cells than an interested layman. Are our future engineers equipped with the inquiry-based skills needed to adapt to rapidly changing technologies? A fuel cell engineering class has been introduced at the University of St. Thomas (UST) where students were challenged to acquire new information, to collect data, analyze it and express an
more » ... ated opinion. The pedagogy of the class was discovery-oriented. The approach was in stark opposition to the established lecture, textbook, homework and exam tradition. Students initiated their own learning, an experience that cannot be overemphasized for future problem solvers. Assignments included student-led lectures and discussions, a formal laboratory notebook, and a final thought experiment written in the form of a proposal. Students' experimental proposals, lecture topics, and lab experiments will be presented in this paper. notebooks were of mixed quality at the beginning of the class. Tough mid-term laboratory grades and the input of a professional engineering consultant raised the level of work output significantly. The design of experiment proposals were of high technical quality. The use of an actual 'request for proposal' gave the students firm guidance and a feel for the competitive nature of real world proposal writing.
doi:10.18260/1-2--13284 fatcat:c3xywqk3ubeenj2kymyohrloe4