Engineering Design: How to Introduce it in Low Level Courses? Muhammad Taher Abuelma’atti King Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDepartment of Electrical.
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Engineering Design: How to Introduce it in Low Level Courses? Muhammad Taher Abuelma’atti King Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDepartment of Electrical Engineering
What is Said? “I was sustained throughout my professional career by an undergraduate education that taught me how to think and organize my thoughts, how to analyze problems in a critical manner, how to design solutions to open-ended problems, and how to learn on my own” Professor David Conner, Ex-Editor, IEEE Transactions on Education, 2002
“Employability is best served by training graduates who can think” Professor Ian Markham, Liverpool Hope University College, U.K., 2000 “The purpose of a university education is not to program students in a predetermined job, it is to develop their critical and analytical powers. It is to teach them to think widely rather than narrowly. Vivien Coombs, Westcot Farmohouse, U.K., 2000
●” Today too many engineering students believe they can get by without understanding the fundamentals and without paying attention to details”. S.M. Miri, IEEE T. Education, 1993 ● “Design skills are the least relevant/used skills” Employer Survey conducted in 2004 by the College of Engineering Sciences, KFUPM
“Design projects must be introduced to satisfy the ABET design content in the courses” Dr. E. S. Ibrahim, International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, 2004 ● “I was sustained because my undergraduate education required that I rigorously pursue each problem to completion with personal discipline. (No! I was not subjected to an ABET-mandated group capstone project …)” Professor David Conner, Ex-Editor, IEEE Transactions on Education, 2002
“The design projects have been introduced not only to satisfy the ABET design content in the courses, but also because they have proven to be excellent vehicles for teaching the subject and for motivating the students “ Drs. R. Betancourt and W.V. Torre, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 1989
“Teaching design can change the students’ attitudes about learning fundamentals and dealing with details, and thus, can help produce future engineers who will be more innovative than many of today’s practicing engineers”. S.M. Miri, IEEE T. on Education, 1993
● “Design should be an integral part of every engineering education” M. Moghavvemi, Saudi Technical Conference and Exhibition, 2000 ● “The learner learns only what he himself does” J. Alison and F. A. Benson, IEE Proceedings-A, 1983
Who Needs Engineering Design in our Courses? 1. The local industry? NO (the least required skill) 2. ABET? YES (for accreditation) 3. How about us, the Faculty and Students ? YES! Why ? To help us produce graduates who can: a. Think. b. Critically analyze. c. Learn on their own. 4. Be innovative. That is Engineers.
How to Infuse Design in Low Level Engineering Courses? I. In the laboratories: Hands on experience is the first step of design. The best man in the field should be in the laboratory not the least experienced and least expensive person available. 2. In the laboratory divide students into groups, make a competition among the groups. Ask the first group who successfully complete the experiment to present and share their findings with the rest.
3.Convert the final laboratory test to a simple open-book design project using the design, construct and test format. Avoid too complex or lengthy projects. Possible distribution of marks is 40%, 40% and 20% respectively. 4. Show and teach the students how to troubleshoot circuits and systems. Do not do it yourself. Successful completion of the experiment is not the main issue. Students may learn more from their failure than from a successful experiment that works from the first time.
4. Give the students the chance to modify the proposed design in order to test their understanding of the theory. 5. Even in the very basic courses, make the experiments relevant to real life. 6. Make use of the time allocated to the laboratory in full.
7. Whenever possible avoid using simulation packages. The real performance of the circuits and systems can be measured only in the laboratories. Simulation may be helpful but it cannot be a substitute for the practical measurements. If you ask the students to perform simulation, then you must ask them to compare hand-calculation, simulation and practical measurements and to find out where and why there are differences.
II. In the lectures 1.Show the students that for any engineering problem there is always more than one solution. Ask the students to suggest solutions and discuss with them the merits and demerits of every solution. 2. Always explain the physical meanings of the mathematical results. Discuss with the students the possible sources of errors in real life applications of these results. Always stress the approximations made in the models used to obtain these mathematical expressions.
3. Remember that quality is more important than quantity. So given a good raw students what do we do? Teach them the importance and power of fundamental concepts and how to think. 4.Teach the students to ask the question “what if?” 5. Teach the students what is the function of every single component in the system and how a design value can be chosen for it. Also show them that calculated values of components can not be always met in practice.
III. In the examinations 1.State the problem clearly and avoid imposing the methodology of solving it. Let the students take the right decision. 2.ِAlways avoid problems requiring just “equation plugging” solutions. 3.Assign marks on the steps of the solution rather than on the final answer only. 4.Design questions that have multiple correct answers. 5.Avoid reusing questions from old examinations and solution manuals.
Design Projects in Low Level Courses Must: 1.Be relevant to course material. 2.Be doable by the student. 3.Be constructed and tested. 4.Be completely worked out by the instructor. 5.Have clear grading and design evaluation criteria.
Possible Sources of Design Projects in Low Level Courses: 1.By observing what is going on around us and asking the question “What If?”. 2.From technical magazines. 3.By converting text book problems to open ended ones by removing a constraint or converting what is known to unknown.
Conclusion Faculty and students need design in engineering courses even if local industry do not require it. Faculty must prepare students by incorporating design principles and concepts in the courses: in lectures, in laboratories and in examinations. Faculty have to adopt teaching approaches that emphasize thinking rather than memorizing.
In engineering education nothing can replace the teaching of fundamentals and attention to details. Teaching engineering design can develop deep understanding of the fundamentals. Students learn most effectively through successful design experiences.