Using Research and Applied Projects to Enhance Learning in Mechanical Engineering Design Courses

By Wael Mokhtar and Paul Duesing.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A design project is one of the effective tools to enhance the learning for undergraduate courses. It increases the students’ interest in the subject presented and bridges the barrier between the theory and practice. This paper discusses the use of a design project for a junior level mechanical engineering design course. The paper also addresses the philosophy, purpose, and value of the design review process and how it fits into the engineering education. The role of the design review in relation to the general communication skills of engineering graduates is discussed. The project starts by building on the technical and non-technical skills the students have developed in their first two years. Then it expands their skills by utilizing the concepts that are introduced in the theoretical part of the course. Two models are described that represent typical research and applied projects. The main differences between the two models are discussed in terms of the timeline for the main activities of the project and the interrelationship of these activities to the theoretical part of the course. In the first model, the students designed a balance for automotive testing inside the Langley Full Scale Tunnel (LFST) located in the NASA Langley Research Center. This project was done with the cooperation with the Aerospace Engineering Department at Old Dominion University. The second project is to develop a competitive design for a truck-mounted snow plow that must be suitable for mass production. The uniqueness of the first project made it a suitable research project while the competitive nature of the second project made it a good candidate for an applied project. The paper will be of interest to faculty who teach design courses in engineering and technology where the goal is to incorporate a design project that encompasses both technical and non-technical skills.

Keywords: Teaching, Design, Project, Engineering Education

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp.265-274. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1010.751KB).

Dr. Wael Mokhtar

Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste Marie, MI, USA

BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Teaching Mechanical Engineering courses. Advising senior project students. Perform research related to aerodynamics application. Starting in the Spring 2008, Chair the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology. Curriculum development.

Paul Duesing

Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste Marie, MI, USA

BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering 20+ of teaching experience. Teaching Mechanical Engineering courses. Teaching Engineering Technology courses. Advising senior project students. Curriculum development. Crouse assessment. Program assessment. Chair the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology.

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