(459a) Group Mini Design Projects for Freshman Intro to Engineering
AIChE Annual Meeting
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 12:30pm to 12:55pm
Freshman engineering programs vary greatly at different universities and are constantly a topic of debate for educators seeking to inspire, excite and educate the next generation of engineers. The demand from industry is to provide engineers that are not only technically competent, but that can thrive in a group environment and lead a team to design a better product. The challenge for educators then, is to introduce more design within socially relevant contexts into their curriculum starting at the freshman level without decreasing student retention. The dilemma is in introducing design problems, which are open-ended, with more than one solution, to freshman. Most freshman still learn by acquiring knowledge from the teacher, assuming that all knowledge is a collection of facts that are right or wrong. Therefore asking them to achieve the next leaving of learning that is required of engineering design is not an easy task. The goal of this paper is to evaluate using the artificial kidney design, as well as some smaller chemical engineering specific design projects, as a stepping stone for the introduction of multiple disciplines of engineering to freshman at Villanova University in a seven week mini project based course. The effectiveness of this course at introducing freshman students to engineering concepts and retaining their enthusiasm for engineering was evaluated using a pre/post course survey, student quiz performance and final student design reports (both oral and written). Overall, the instructors found the course to be effective at improving student understanding of engineering fundamentals and increasing their enthusiasm for engineering.