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An Investigation Into the Effectiveness of an Algorithmic Approach to Teaching Functional Modeling

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert L. Nagel

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Matt R. Bohm

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Julie S. Linsey

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Paper No. DETC2013-12658, pp. V001T04A023; 17 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 15th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 10th International Conference on Design Education; 7th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5584-3
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The consideration of function is prevalent across numerous domains as a technique allowing complex problems to be abstracted into a form more readily solvable. In engineering design, functional models tend to be of a more generalized nature describing what a system should do based on customer needs, target specifications, objectives, and constraints. While the value of function in engineering design seems to be generally recognized, it remains a difficult concept to teach to engineering design students. In this paper, a study on the effectiveness of an algorithmic approach for teaching function and functional model generation is presented. This paper is a follow-up on to the 2012 ASME IDETC paper, An Algorithmic Approach to Teaching Functionality. This algorithmic approach uses a series of grammar rules to assemble function chains which then can be aggregated into a complete functional model. In this paper, the results of a study using the algorithmic approach at Texas A&M in a graduate level design course are presented. The analysis of the results is discussed, and the preliminary evidence shows promise toward supporting our hypothesis that the algorithmic approach has a positive impact on student learning.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Modeling , Teaching



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