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Experiences From the First Offering of a Stringed Instrument Manufacture and Testing Course

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark French

Purdue University

Paper No. IMECE2006-16156, pp. 497-503; 7 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


It is a constant challenge to present technical course content in a way that is attractive to undergraduate technology students. They tend to be focused on the immediate utility of the information and are often skeptical of abstract subjects. With this in mind, a course has been developed that uses the manufacture of stringed instruments as a means of teaching basic concepts of dynamic structural response, acoustic-structure coupling and manufacturing processes. A group of 12 students recently participated in a senior level engineering technology course in which they designed and built 12 nominally identical instruments. Guided by a faculty member who is also an experienced luthier (a maker of stringed instruments), they made production fixtures, fabricated the individual components, assembled the instruments and tested them. The results were used to tune discrete math models that captured the first two resonant frequencies of coupled-air structure interaction. Since reducing build variation is a primary activity in production environments, one measure of merit for the class was to produce identical instruments. Build variation was characterized by the variation in the measured resonant frequencies of instruments and of the identified mode parameters from the discrete models. The class has generated significant student interest and promises to be a compelling venue for teaching important technical concepts. It is, however, dependent on an initial investment in tools, materials and faculty experience.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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