Mini Design Projects: A Hands On Approach To Teaching Instrumentation Courses In Et Programs

Eric Hansberry, Guido Lopez
2003 Annual Conference Proceedings   unpublished
Design is the central activity of engineering and the focus of undergraduate engineering education. Effective teaching and learning of underlying engineering science and the principles of engineering design can be readily accomplished in instrumentation courses, through the completion of minidesign projects relative to the measurement of common variables found in engineering systems, such as temperature, pressure, stress, fluid flow, motion, sound, etc. This paper presents and discusses typical
more » ... d discusses typical examples of highly affordable mini-design projects that have been implemented and used during the instruction of engineering students in a standard introductory instrumentation course in the School of Engineering Technology at Northeastern University. These mini-design projects can be completed within the time constraints inherent to regular academic schedules, and provide students with an appreciation for the realities of engineering practice, in particular, those associated with time and money constrains. This teaching technique blends the perspectives of theoretical discussions in regular lectures and the subtleties encountered in the practice of engineering design. It seeks to develop proficiency through practice guided by concurrent knowledge and the recognizable dimensions and challenges of the engineering product development process. Using this educational approach, class assessment guided by the Technology Criteria 2000 (TC2K) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), effectively reflects satisfactory mastery of knowledge, and the desirable abilities students are expected to demonstrate, as established by TC2K. Introduction. It is known to practicing engineers and engineering educators that fundamental knowledge of science and mathematics, and the creative application of this knowledge in the design of systems, components and/or processes are two essential elements of the engineering profession. Engineers must have the ability to solve technical problems, master scientific knowledge, be creative, and apply the proper judgement to provide real solutions to real needs. The focus of engineering education is on the acquisition of knowledge through class lectures, personal study, engineering design and lab experimentation. Time constraints and costs associated with laboratories and design activity may prove to be challenging and often discouraging. Nonetheless, these factors can help to provide students with a concrete appreciation of the realities of the engineering field. The development of low-cost mini-design projects that provide opportunity to apply scientific and mathematical knowledge is an ideal approach to convey engineering experience. These miniprojects must suit realistically the academic character and time constraints of basic engineering courses. At the same time, they need to provide the proper theoretical and practical challenge for students to comprehend the perspectives of theory and gain experience about optimization of resources, and other subtleties encountered in the practice of engineering. During the oral presentation to their peers, students are required to explain the standard concepts and principles of instrumentation inherent to their projects, issues faced during the design process, It is the responsibility of the institution seeking accreditation of an engineering technology program to demonstrate clearly that the program meets the following criteria. Example 2 Design, construction and testing of an electromechanical unit to measure the flow of air. The objective of this mini-design project as stated by the team's proposal was... "to construct a device to measure flow rate of gas that can be used by gas companies to measure volumes of output, by pipe manufactures to measure flow rates, and consumers to measure consumption." This statement offered a unique opportunity to discuss in depth and clarify concepts, definitions and principles related to flow, volume, volume rate, mass, mass flow rate, mass conservation, and the notion of "consumption". This is a project that was approved based on simplicity and feasibility for successful completion.
doi:10.18260/1-2--12306 fatcat:6q4mxqmjsvh2bhpzvqlrx66lay