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Integrating Design into Freshman

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					           Integrating Design into Freshman Engineering: A Lehigh Experience

                 Gregory L. Tonkay, Richard Sause, Louis A. Martin-Vega, Harvey G. Stenger
                                College of Engineering and Applied Science
                                             Lehigh University
                                           Bethlehem, PA 18015

Abstract - For many years the freshman engineering                 design integrated throughout the curriculum. NSF has
experience at Lehigh University provided students with             recognized the need for revision of the beginning engineering
orientation about the various engineering majors, but little, if   curriculum and has established engineering education coalitions
any experience about what engineers actually do. In 1995, a        that are also addressing this issue [1,2].
college-wide commitment was made to provide freshmen with
the opportunity to have a substantive, hands-on engineering             Beginning Engineering Curriculum Committee
design experience. The lessons learned and results obtained
through the implementation of the first prototype section of       To remedy these problems, Lehigh University formed a
ENGR 3 (Engineering 3) have evolved into a course that             Beginning Engineering Curriculum Committee (BECC) in 1993
currently provides design experiences for about 40% of the         and charged it with the task of finding a way to put more
1996-97 freshman class. This paper presents the format used        engineering related material into the freshman year. At Lehigh
at Lehigh to integrate design into the freshman engineering        the freshman year is common for all engineering majors, so any
experience. Examples of design projects developed by the           changes to the curriculum would have to be approved by the
students are also presented and discussed.                         college faculty. BECC had one representative from each of the
                                                                   6 departments in the College of Engineering and Applied
           Introduction and Background                             Science plus a representative from Math, Chemistry, and
                                                                   Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. This committee
Engineering is a profession that requires knowledge of             spent 2 years analyzing the old curriculum, studying the
fundamental sciences, math, and design methodologies. All          curricula of other schools, specifying modifications for an
of these knowledge areas go together to allow engineers to         existing course (ENGR 1 - Engineering Computations), and
understand how systems interact and how they can be                developing an experimental course (ENGR 98 - Freshman
improved. In the past students came into the freshman year         Design Experience). The experimental course was recently
with a better understanding of how mechanical and electrical       approved as a permanent course and given the course
systems function. They had experience working on a broad           designation ENGR 3. To avoid confusion the course will be
range of products from automobiles to appliances. Repairs          referred to as ENGR 3 in this paper even though it was taught
could be performed with common household tools. Now                the first three offerings as ENGR 98. This paper will describe
however, most products require in-depth knowledge and              ENGR 3 and how it fits into the present curriculum. It will
specialized tools for repair. Modern products are designed to      discuss the first offering of the course and changes that were
be repaired in a modular fashion. Entire subsystems or printed     made for the second and third offerings.
circuit boards are replaced rather than single components.
While this has reduced the labor required to repair products,                  Freshman Engineering Curriculum
it has also reduced the debugging skills and general
understanding of mechanical and electrical systems by              The curriculum for a freshman engineer, prior to the changes
incoming engineering students. Hence, incoming students are        recommended by BECC, is shown in Table 1. In addition to
at a disadvantage to see how basic science and math can be         Calculus and English, students enroll in Chemistry, Chemistry
applied to engineering problems. Some lose interest early on       Laboratory, and Engineering Computations in one semester,
and transfer to other educational programs before they can         and Physics, Physics Laboratory, Humanities/Social Science
experience the real thrill of solving engineering related          Elective, and Introduction to Engineering in the opposite
problems.                                                          semester.
     Many educators have recognized the need to provide                Engineering Computations (ENGR 1) is a course that
engineering design experience early in the engineering             teaches fundamentals of computers, detailed FORTRAN
curriculum. A 1989 ABET visit to Lehigh University                 programming, introductory C programming, and numerical
suggested that design be integrated throughout the curriculum,     methods. Introduction to Engineering (ENGR 2) is a 1 credit,
beginning in the freshman year. A subsequent ABET visit in         pass/fail course, designed to introduce students to the various
1995 also stressed the new ABET criteria with a focus on           engineering majors, library, career services, and the
                                                                   Humanities/Social Science Elective Program.
       Table 1. Freshman Engineering Curriculum                              Logistics and scheduling
   Semester 1                    Semester 2                                  Ergonomics and human factors in design
     Course        Credit          Course      Credit                        Materials options and selection
 Calculus I          4          Calculus II      4                           Environmental health and safety
 English I           3          English II       3                           History of manufacturing
 Chemistry I         4     or Physics I          4                           Working in teams (added in spring 1997)
 Chemistry           1     or Physics            1                           Effective presentations (added in spring 1997)
 Laboratory                     Laboratory                               Groups generally consist of 3 to 4 students. The members
 Engineering         3     or Humanities/       3-4                 of the groups perform various roles such as leader, recorder,
 Computations                   Social                              and convener on a rotating basis. The recorder of each group
                                Science                             is required to submit a summary of each group meeting via e-
                                Elective                            mail following the meeting. Figures and drawings are
                           or Introduction       1                  submitted on paper. The meeting summaries accumulate to
                                to                                  form a laboratory notebook.
                                Engineering                              The lectures are given by private sector employees and
                                                                    faculty from three colleges: Engineering and Applied Science,
                                                                    Business and Economics, and Arts and Sciences. The
     A student without advance placement credits wishing to         laboratories are supervised by the faculty member in charge of
take ENGR 3, drops the Humanities/Social Science elective.          the project. The format for the laboratories varies according to
In most engineering curricula, ENGR 3 counts as a free              the project and the desires of the faculty member. Some faculty
elective that typically occurs in the junior or senior year. The    members view their role as more of a consultant. Others lead
student then makes up the Humanities/Social Science elective        the students through formal laboratory exercises.
in the slot normally reserved for the free elective in the junior        Students are required to prepare a written mid-term and
or senior year.                                                     final report. They also make a mid-term and final presentation.
                                                                    The mid-term report is a progress report that defines the
                                                                    objectives of the project, the planned solution method and
                Description of ENGR 3                               milestones. This is presented to other groups in the same
                                                                    project. The final presentation is presented to the entire class
                          Objectives                                during the final exam period. Each member of the group is
                                                                    required to participate in the presentations.
BECC formulated a set of course objectives to help alleviate
the problems discussed in the introduction. The objectives                                  Initial Offerings
were as follows:
      to learn how things work                                     The first offering of ENGR 3 occurred in spring semester,
      to practice design and project engineering                   1996. Subsequently, two additional offerings have been
      to improve communication skills                              provided (fall semester, 1996 and spring semester, 1997). In
      to learn about engineering constraints                       the first offering, all the students that were invited to participate
      to understand the engineering curricula for different        were Dean’s Scholars. A Dean’s Scholar is a student with a
         major programs                                             merit based scholarship given at the discretion of the Dean. All
All the activities in the course are designed to achieve these      of those invited had advanced placement in at least one course
objectives.                                                         (usually a humanities or social science course). This allowed
                                                                    them to easily forgo the HSS elective during the freshman year
                            Format                                  (see Table 1). In addition to the engineering students, 4
                                                                    students from arts and business participated. Subsequent
The format for ENGR 3 is one 50 minute lecture and one 3            offerings of the course were open to the entire freshman
hour laboratory each week. The lecture is common for all            engineering class on a voluntary basis. Arts and business
project groups in the course. The laboratory activities depend      students were not invited to participate in the 2nd and 3rd
on the project to which the student is assigned. The lecture        offering for reasons discussed in the next section. Just under
topics are chosen to provide the students with general              40% of the freshmen engineering class in the 1996-97 academic
information that is useful to all engineers. A list of past         year chose to take ENGR 3.
lecture topics is as follows:                                            The original course of 20 students was divided in half to
      Project Management                                           test 2 different approaches to group projects. One half of the
      What are models and how do we build them                     students were assigned to a single, semester-long project. The
      Market pull vs technology push                               other half of the class was assigned to 2 half-semester projects,
each under the direction of a different faculty member.             scores rated the course and instructors very high. Common
Students were not given a choice of projects in the initial         written comments listed this as the best course the students took
offering. A more detailed discussion of the semester-long           in their freshmen year. Other than the lectures, the most
project is provided in the next section.                            common complaint was that the project was not what the
      In the 1996-97 year, 5 projects were offered in each          original description led the students to expect. Over 95% of
semester. All freshmen engineering students were invited to         those responding would recommend the course to their
enroll in the course. They were given a 1 page summary of           classmates. Students also provided overwhelmingly positive
each project. Students enrolling in the course ranked their top     feedback for the general course methodology in a meeting
three choices for projects. In both semesters, all students         following the third offering.
received either their first or second choice. Since freshmen do
not enroll in a major until April, projects were not classified            Detailed Discussion of Tripod Project
by major. In fact, the faculty made an effort to decouple
projects from majors. Students were encouraged to select a          An example of a project from the first offering of the course is
project that sounded interesting. The average number of             the tripod system designed by three groups. The tripod was a
students that a faculty member supervised was 10.                   simplification of a hoist system to lower heavy objects down
                                                                    through a manhole. The tripod consisted of a top plate, three
                      Student Feedback                              legs, three feet, and a cable wrapped around the legs to keep
                                                                    them from spreading when a weight was suspended from the
The feedback for the first offering of ENGR 3 was very              top plate. The objective was to design, build, and test a
positive. Students were asked to submit written comments            prototype, half-scale model. The full-scale tripod had to
concerning their experiences and ways to improve the course.        support 6,000 pounds and provide the ability to lower a payload
Students felt the most beneficial part of the course was the        that was the size of a standard manhole. The height of the full-
chance to work on a group oriented project and present the          scale model was a maximum of 7 feet. Another criteria
results to a group of faculty and students. All of the students     important for the design was the ease of assembly and
submitting an evaluation said they would recommend the              disassembly in the field.
course to other freshmen. Students and faculty involved in the            Since the students had little intuition for this problem, they
course felt that the single, semester-long project provided a       constructed small, wooden models to show the different modes
better experience than the 2 half-semester projects. The            of failure. They were given small and large diameter legs,
duration of the half-semester projects were too short to            wooden and foam top plates, and thick and thin string for the
achieve meaningful results. Therefore, subsequent offerings         base. Each group constructed 3 small-scale models as shown
of the course have had a semester-long project.                     in Figure 1. Each of the models had one type of weak
      The arts and business students in the initial offering felt   component that would cause the failure. Next, they applied a
the projects were too oriented toward engineering. In general       manual load until the model failed. The results showed them
they did not feel as if they contributed as much to the team.       that failure of the string or top plate happened very quickly with
The course leaders are exploring other alternatives to remedy       little warning. The failure of the legs was more noticeable
this problem. In the 1997-98 year more faculty outside of           because it provided a visual warning before the structure failed.
engineering will be asked to observe and participate in the         The students decided that this was the preferred method of
projects.                                                           failure.
      Throughout the initial three offerings the biggest                  The next laboratory topic was the testing of individual
complaint has been the lectures. Students did not find the          components. Different diameter and wall thickness aluminum
lectures to be directly applicable to their projects and believed   tubes were compressed in a 300 kip test machine in the
that they took up valuable time that could have been devoted        Department Civil and Environmental Engineering. The
to the project. In the first offering there was a lecture each      buckling load and deformation of the tubes was measured.
week. In the second offering the lectures were moved earlier        After the peak load was reached, the tubes were unloaded and
in the semester to give the students more time to work on their     the straightness measured to determine if there was any
projects during the middle and end of the semester. This was        permanent deformation. In conjunction with this experiment,
accomplished by using the first 3 laboratory periods as double      the students were presented theoretical information about how
lecture periods. The students felt this slowed the start of the     wall thickness, tube length, and diameter determine whether
project too much. In the third offering the schedule returned       the buckling deformation was permanent or temporary. This
to a lecture each week except for the final 3 weeks which were      information and the test results were used by the students to
available as group time. Future plans are discussed in the final    design tripod legs with sufficient buckling load capacity and to
section.                                                            remain undamaged by overload conditions.
      In the second and third offerings, a more formal,                   The next phase of the project was for the students to design
anonymous course evaluation was performed. Numerical                the structure such that certain size payloads could be placed
            Figure 1. Three Small-Scale Models
under the tripod and lowered into a manhole. Both cylindrical
and rectangular payloads were specified in the problem
statement. The students spent time determining the angles of
the top plate and feet and lengths of tubes to allow the
payloads to fit. They used a computer-based structural
analysis program to analyze forces in the legs and cable.
Finally, they determined the wall thickness and diameter of
tubes for the legs, the dimensions of the feet and top plate, and
the length of cable required.
     The next phase of the project was to fabricate the
structure using machine tools in the Department of Industrial
and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. The students could
use a band saw, drill press, lathe, and milling machine. A
technician was available to help the students setup and
understand the machines. However, the technician did not run
                                                                        Figure 2. Finished Tripod in Test Machine
the machines for the students.
     The final phase of the project was testing the half-scale          leaf blower followed by a design and construction of
model using the same 300 kip test machine that was used to              a hand held vacuum cleaner.
test the aluminum tubes. Load cells were positioned in the             Design of a method/process to depress the freezing
cable and above the top plate so that forces could be measured          point of windshield solvents - designed and produced
and compared to the theoretical values specified in the design          both a test apparatus and solutions to prevent freezing
phase. Load and displacement data were collected as the                 of fluid on automobile windshields moving 30 mph.
structures were compressed. Figure 2 shows one of the tripod           Scale up of a popcorn popper - reverse engineered a
assemblies in the test machine. The students were also timed            hot air popcorn popper and designed a new popper to
while assembling their tripod. All three of the student groups          produce 3 times the rate of popcorn.
met the minimum load criteria for the tripod system, although          Design of a game using paper airplane construction -
there was significant variation in the load carrying capability.        designed of a game and manuals that would teach
             Examples of Other Projects                                 users to fold various types of paper airplanes. It
                                                                        culminated in a student organized contest for flight
During the three offerings of the course, several projects have         duration and acrobatics.
been attempted. The following list provides the topical titles         Design of robots for a contest to force opponents out
and a brief description of the projects: Design       of     an         of a specified playing field - devised rules for the
earthquake proof structure - designed and tested simple planar          contest and then designed and built simple mobile
truss structures made of steel and approximately 1 foot square.         robots controlled by a laser pointer to reach and
      Design of a bicycle frame - designed and constructed             maintain position in the center of the field.
          a bicycle frame from steel tubes.                            Design of an electronic product - designed and
      Reverse engineering of a blower and design of a                  produced a commercially viable electronic product.
          hand vacuum - reverse engineered a battery operated
         Groups produced an alarm clock and an electronic          and beyond the normal teaching load. In exchange, they
         warning system for when a child strays too far.           receive a $500 grant. It is not clear how long this model will
        Design of a camera holder - designed and produced         continue to function. Enrollments have not been limited during
         a handheld camera holder that could stand by itself       the first 3 offerings. However, it is possible that some students
         or be strapped to an object such as a tree.               might be turned away if a significantly larger percentage decide
        Design of a hydraulic riser system to remove water        to enroll in the course. The Dean has provided $1000 for each
         from a retention pond - designed, produced and            project to cover materials and supplies. However, technician
         tested a wooden riser that would provide specific         and equipment support for a laboratory intensive project, like
         flow rates of water for 2, 5, 25, and 100 year storms.    the tripod project described previously, quickly consume the
                                                                   entire project budget.
             Meeting Course Objectives                                  Another conclusion that can be drawn from offering a
                                                                   college level course such as ENGR 3 is that the course must be
An analysis of the course objectives shows that many, but not      developed by the faculty that will participate in teaching the
all have been met. In some of the projects, students learn         course. Different engineering departments often have different
how mechanical and electrical systems function. Other              views of the world. A college-wide course such has ENGR 3
projects do not provide any exposure. An alternative would         must have the flexibility to accommodate these varying
be to require every student to dissect a product to learn how it   viewpoints. Also, by involving members from all departments,
works. However, this would use valuable time that might be         resources are available for a diverse series of lecture topics for
better spent working on the main project. In all of the projects   many aspects of engineering.
students have had practice in engineering design and project            Lehigh is exploring the possibility of making this a
management. They learn that there is rarely enough time to         university-wide course. This will require more involvement
complete the project to the extent the team would like. The        from faculty from the other colleges. Projects for a broader
oral and written presentations provide an opportunity to           audience must be developed. To date, Lehigh views ENGR 3
improve communication skills. In the third offering of the         as an overwhelming success. Students will continue to be
course, formal instruction on making presentations was added.      tracked throughout their degree programs to see if the course
This provided an increase in the quality of the presentations.     provides a significant benefit to them.
Students experienced the constraints placed on engineering
projects. Most often the constraints were time and money. In                                References
addition many projects had constraints on the product or
process. The final objective of better understanding the           [1] Engineering Education Coalitions-Meeting the Need for
engineering curricula is more formally accomplished in the 1           Reform, National Science Foundation, Publication NSF
credit course ENGR 2. However, the students do gain an                 93-58a.
understanding of what different engineering majors can bring
to design projects.                                                [2} M.L. Walker, Jr., J.R. Bowen, and B.B. Schimming,
                                                                       “ECSEL Coalition (Engineering Coalition of Schools for
                         Summary                                       Excellence in Education and Leadership) — A Foundation
                                                                       for Educational Change,” Proceedings of the 23rd
This paper discussed the formulation and evolution of an               Frontiers in Education Conference, Crystal City, VA, Nov
optional course for engineering freshmen at Lehigh                     1993, p. 35.
University. The course gives students close interaction with
an engineering faculty member much earlier than the
traditional curriculum at Lehigh. The 120 students that have
completed the course through May 1997, have found the
course to be extremely valuable. The opportunity to work in
groups under the close supervision of a faculty member is a
key feature of their comments. The major complaint has been
that the projects sometimes require more work than the
students expected.
     One of the main issues that has surfaced is that of
resources required to lead a project. The Dean has been
successful so far soliciting volunteers from throughout the
college to be project leaders. The course has been coordinated
by a course leader as part of the normal teaching load.
However, the project leaders volunteer to lead a project above

				
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