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A Simple Mechanism to Teach a Complex Practitioner Knowledge Set

[+] Author Affiliations
Bruce A. Harding

Purdue University

Paper No. IMECE2005-80481, pp. 479-486; 8 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4232-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Mechanical engineering technology graduates must exhibit a number of skills as industrial practitioners. While certain skills are learned on the job, fundamental knowledge acquired in school coursework actually forms the basis for successful development of that necessary skills set. Within the skill set, one given great emphasis is that of communications. At Purdue University, the emphasis on communications skills crosses many courses but is divided among four veins: 1) written communications dealing with papers, reports, etc.; 2) oral communications dealing with effective presentations and interpersonal relationships; 3) computational communications, mathematical problem-solving, be it via hand, calculator or computer; and 4) graphics communications dealing with 3D modeling and the development and interpretation of specifications documented on engineering drawings. This paper describes a project where a simple mechanical device is used to teach complex topics, bridging multiple communications veins. In this case the project centers on the design and modification of an arbor press, but could be based on any number of devices. The simple arbor press forms the foundation for the development of a complex industry-driven knowledge set. Included are topics common to practitioners employed in design, manufacturing and quality - all of which are typical industrial assignments for MET graduates. The assignment is part of Production Design & Specifications (PD&S), a core course and the second in a two-course CAD-based freshman sequence. Where the first course teaches 3D modeling skills, PD&S concentrates on the cognitive aspects of problem-solving using modeling, calculations and extracted drawings. Students complete the project in three phases over an eight-week period. Each phase is driven by an Engineering Change Order (ECO), a common industrial practice. Contained in the ECOs are both detailed requirements and open-ended requirements. While fulfilling the ECOs, students must make decisions on interconnected requirements that ripple through design, manufacturing, and quality assurance. Requirements include: • Design based on ISO preferred numbers. • Selection of standard parts and stock materials. • Determination of cost/benefit ratios. • Manufacturing tolerances and tolerance stack-ups. • Fits calculations based on ASME B4.2 standards. • Calculation of mass properties. • Use of geometric dimensioning & tolerancing. • Documentation of product lifecycle changes. Together, these and other varied topics, when woven around the simplicity of an arbor press, give students real-world experiences without the process becoming daunting due to the sheer complexity of the mechanism.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Mechanisms



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