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Methods for Improving the Design of Experiments Outcome in an ME Curriculum

[+] Author Affiliations
Timothy C. Scott

University of Virginia

Paper No. IMECE2006-13785, pp. 29-36; 8 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4781-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


To do a design of experiments project with a sufficient degree of realism can require a large block of class time. It would be valuable for the students to practice uncertainty analysis, selection of instruments, experiment planning, and application of engineering analysis. It would also be useful for them to learn about test codes and standards, to examine descriptions of similar test rigs found in the technical literature, and to operate within constraints on time, materials and fabrication costs. Time and student skill levels limit the number of these "ideals" that can be achieved, and compromises have to be made. The hope is that these limitations will not cause the project to degenerate to the "design without much analysis the night before the project is due" mentality that many students equate with "design" This paper describes methods for improving the "design of experiments" outcome in the ME curriculum. The design of a rig for testing electronics cooling heat sinks is the project. Activities in several prerequisite courses are coordinated to provide supporting background knowledge. A heat sink thermal design project in the co-requisite heat transfer course is linked to the design of experiments project. These efforts allow more time for the actual design activity. Several techniques for bringing realistic constraints into the project and for improving the efficiency of some traditionally time consuming activities are presented. Instead of simplifying the objective, students are given more assistance in overcoming the problems that they are least able to solve due to their inexperience. In this way, the project maintains a higher level of realism.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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