Multimedia Design Case Studies
Mechanical Engineering Department
Tuskegee, AL 36088
Abstract This paper presents the implementation of the
multimedia technology to enhance the learning process in
mechanical engineering design discipline. The immediate
Design Case Studies is one of the new courses that
department work at Tuskegee involves developing different
has been developed through the National Science
design cases to enhance the design curriculum. Synthesis-
Foundation Coalition, SYNTHESIS, to initiate systemic
wide themes and specific questions pertaining to the
reform of undergraduate engineering education. The multimedia design case studies course have been used to
course is designed to update and enhance the case study collect course feedback.
method of teaching by using multimedia technology and
hypermedia to combine live video examples of current
engineering processes to illustrate that design is an
The Importance of Design Cases
interdisciplinary, cooperative and dynamic process.
Students will learn how to design if they are involved in
These extensive case studies cover all aspects of the life
a number of real projects from start to finish. These
cycle of selected engineered products in which
projects can be current and real if they are provided by
exemplary design practices have been followed. The
industry. Since industry does not expect useful results from
case studies provide useful examples of design synthesis,
students’ work, available projects are often of low priority
interplay between technical and societal factors, or are tailored for student use. Real projects require
industrial practice, multiple engineering disciplines and intensive labor and too much time and have high priority.
business considerations. These multimedia case In the educational process, neither the students nor the
studies, a component of the NSF Synthesis Coalition to faculty can find time for enough projects to develop the
improve engineering education, are available for design experience.
distribution to other coalition campuses. Selected cases Design cases can be offered as an alternative or
will be made downward extensible for use in high school supplement to design projects since they can provide a
and precollege programs to spark students' interest in broad perspective in less time and a realistic context for
engineering. The Multimedia Design Case Studies course learning the design process . These cases cover all
has been taught at Tuskegee University as a design aspects of the life cycle of selected engineered products in
elective course since Fall 1993. which exemplary design practices have been followed.
They provide a variety of design experiences, illustrate
Introduction examples of good and bad engineering, and offer an
opportunity to raise questions and discuss solutions. Since
Multimedia case studies of design practices in industry cases are about real engineering activity, students can
play a major rule in boosting the students' retention rate, compare their judgement and decisions with those made by
stimulating their creativity, and increasing the depth and the professionals and explore the differences and the
width of their understanding. By incorporating video, reasons.
sound, animation, and interaction, multimedia adds exciting
new dimensions to classical paper case studies. Students Multimedia in Engineering Education
can review how exemplary products were conceived, how
decisions were made, how stages of design were developed, At the undergraduate level most students never have
and how products were designed for easy assembly and the opportunity to apply engineering concepts to real world
manufacturing. Moreover, study issues in reliability, applications. To alleviate this problem, undergraduates
maintenance, social implications and marketing are need the exposure to already developed concepts in use
highlighted. Similarly, the instructor can take a modular today in industry. By using advanced technology applied
approach to using the case studies to illustrate various from various sources, the material could be presented in a
theoretical engineering principles. manner that the student can understand.
Multimedia computing has created an exciting tool for engineers to avoid some of the pitfalls that they will
educational purposes [2-7]. Computing in multiple media, encounter in their practicing careers.
taking advantage of the unique message-carrying ability of Multimedia case studies are being used in various
video, audio, text, animation and graphics, is vastly ways. With a computer projection panel, a lecture can
expanding the usefulness of computers as repositories and display parts of a case study to an entire class. Examples in
disseminators of information. The potential uses for the case studies are useful in supporting the standard lecture
multimedia material in engineering education are numerous. material. The open navigational system is ideal for this
Recently, "Courseware" has employed multimedia to purpose since the instructor can jump to any portion of a
incorporate elements such as footage of industrial examples, case study. An index has been built into each case study to
experimental results, biographical and historical facilitate easy access to all topics within the study. Figure 1
information, and computer simulations. In addition, shows the table of contents of the Rules in Design
students are exposed to hardware and software applications multimedia case where the topic selected is Problems
that stimulate their intelligence and challenge their Involving Bending and the user can choose between the
imagination. By illustrating the relevance and importance subtopics. Paths of navigation through the case study are
of all types of information, multimedia can add depth and suggested to students and interactive questions are asked
interest to classroom lectures. Furthermore, students enjoy along the way. In Figure 2, taken from the Design and
the ease of operation of the applications and the Analysis of Shafts, Bearings, and Gears case study, the
independence they promote. In these ways, multimedia can different methods of installing a ball bearing on a shaft is
play a major role in enriching the educational experience of selected and method 1 is demonstrated. In laboratory
engineering students. sections of class, students have the opportunity to review
the case studies on their own paces. Figure 3 shows how a
Development and Implementation reduction unit is assembled as part of the Bench-top
Testing Device multimedia case. In this figure once the
Design Case Studies course, MENG493b, has been user selects the construction icon, the process of assembly
developed to enhance the core curriculum on the will be animated starting from the first component, the shaft,
undergraduate level at the Mechanical Engineering till the last one, the bearing cover.
Department at Tuskegee University. Its purpose is to give It is worthy noted that, some of the multimedia cases
the undergraduate some insight into how exemplary have been offered as part of the Engineering Design II
products are conceived, how products are designed for easy (MENG 417) class. In this class, seniors are shown how
manufacturing and assembly, as well as study issues in design works in specific industrial examples, and design
reliability and maintenance. The examples in this course theories and methodologies can be related to those
are taken from available industrial sources. The cases are examples found in the multimedia cases. With this
interactive with the user and contain sound, graphics, text knowledge base, students will be better equipped to solve
and animation. By using this technology, it is aimed to design problems in the future.
stimulate the minds and creativity of young engineers and
facilitate their retention rate in mechanical engineering. Assessment
The Case Studies course has been offered to seniors in
Mechanical Engineering Department at Tuskegee Each case study has been tested in the classroom and
University as a design elective course. It is a 3-credit hour evaluated from responses from student and instructor
course and covers ten different cases where seven of these questionnaires. In collaboration with faculty in the School
cases are presented using the multimedia technology. Three of Education at Stanford, social scientists at Institute for
multimedia cases were developed at UC Berkeley under the Research in Learning and support in part by literature from
supervision of Dr. A. Agogino. By the end of the semester, the international design research community, a four part
each student is required to develop his own case study. assessment program has been developed and carried all
These cases cover different aspects of engineering and over the Synthesis coalition. The following four
provide most of the rules the designer must follow to create assessment methodologies were adopted and were offered
a reliable mechanical device. The purpose of this course is Coalition -wide service in support of these methods :
to give the undergraduate some insight into basic 1. Synthesis Questionnaire
engineering concepts and techniques. Students interact with 2. Multimedia Forum Kiosk Analysis
the cases by answering questions and choosing their own 3. Video Interaction Analysis
navigational paths to points of interest. The cases are taken 4. Portfolio Development and Analysis
from available industrial sources and most of them are
based on the experience of generations of engineers.
Therefore, these cases are valuable in helping young
have been an important factor. The time line has been
arranged to allow sufficient time for this evaluation,
feedback, and revision. Students find that the material in
this course is relevant in professional work. Responses from
the students on the practicality and use of the multimedia
cases are very favorable. Students are impressed by the fact
that the computer can tell them verbally whether they are
correct or incorrect. In addition all of the students who tried
the cases were either reminded of something they had
forgotten or learned something new. This gives the students
a practical understanding and helps them building
confidence and motivation.
One of the important objectives in engineering
curriculum reform is the need for increasing the technical
awareness in K-12 education. This is in order to attract pre-
college students to the engineering profession. Real world
artifacts raise the interest of K-12 students since most of the
students have heard of, seen, or used them in their daily life.
During the last four years, linkage has been accomplished
through the followings:
- Selected modules have been made downward
extensible for use in high school and pre-college
- Three school systems, one rural and two urban, have
been chosen to participate in this effort.
Figure 2 - Selected teachers from these school systems have been
invited for summer workshop to initiate the
development effort, in downward extensible modules.
Multimedia case studies of design practices in industry
play a major role in boosting students' retention rate,
stimulating their creativity, and broadening their
understanding. The interactive formats of multimedia
engage students in active thought while exploring the design
case study. Video, sound, animation, graphics, and text are
integrated to provide an ideal medium for exploring
engineering disciplines. In these cases, students can review
how exemplary products are conceived, how products are
designed for easy manufacturing and assembly, as well as
study issues in reliability and maintenance. The cases have
been implemented in two mechanical engineering courses:
1) Engineering Design II (MENG 417) and 2) Design Case
The multimedia Forum Kiosk has been a powerful Studies (MENG 493b). The perception of the students to
tool in evaluating the cases. The questionnaires have been these cases has been favorable and encouraging to develop
designed to test student’s sensitivity to life cycle design more.
issues before and after being exposed to the case studies.
Participating companies have been given the opportunity to
review and evaluate the cases. The usability and adoption
rate of the case study for a range of engineering courses
The author would like to acknowledge the NSF
Synthesis Coalition grant to improve engineering education.
The support of Professor A. M. Agogino (Director of the
Synthesis Coalition) and Professor P.K. Ray (Tuskegee
University PI) is also gratefully acknowledged.
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