A design approach in an Introduction to Engineering course

Tian, Jianghong (Esther)
January 2014
Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition;2014, p1
Conference Proceeding
Design is the essence of engineering. Because of its core values in engineering education and research as well as in industry, I decided to incorporate engineering design as the main theme of the Introduction to Engineering course at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Following a five-stage prescriptive model (problem definition, conceptual design, preliminary design, detailed design, and design communication) in their design process, students worked on two collaborative projects: the design and construction of a solar-powered cell phone charger and a persistence of vision wand. In addition to designing and building functional devices as end products, the students developed plans of work, kept records in their lab notebooks, considered alternative designs, wrote final reports including market analysis, and presented their work in visual aided presentations. In the process, students learned to use the design software Autodesk Inventor to design the cases housing the circuit boards of the solar-powered chargers and the wands encasing LED circuits. The cases were then printed out on a three-dimensional printer. They also learned to design, construct, and test electronic circuits. Moreover, students learned to program a microcontroller, an Arduino board, to control the LED displays. Testing and evaluating of designs as well as teamwork self-assessment and peer evaluations were carried out through the process.


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