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Design Integration Into Circuits and Mechatronics Courses

[+] Author Affiliations
Jacquelyn K. S. Nagel, S. Keith Holland

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Paper No. DETC2015-47455, pp. V003T04A021; 4 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 17th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 12th International Conference on Design Education; 8th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5710-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Lab exercises have traditionally been a time when students follow a given procedure, collect data, and interpret the data. The highly structured experience often leads to students focusing on the procedure and not fully thinking through the concepts being covered. While labs are fully completed each week, the structured approach does not prepare students for the open-ended, non-procedural work entry-level engineers will encounter in industry. To encourage a deeper understanding of course concepts and how they translate to physical systems and better prepare students for the workforce, open-ended design projects were offered in place of structured labs in the circuits and mechatronics courses at James Madison University.

The design projects are undirected experiences that build on the directed experiences in lecture and lab. Students are challenged to work in teams to design, build, test, and in one case, calibrate, an electrical system. No instruction is provided for the project, rather, a set of design requirements, timetable, and supplemental materials (e.g., data sheets, vendor design briefs, past labs relevant to the design requirements) are given. Students must synthesize multiple weeks of course content into a single design project. This paper reports on our observations and student feedback for embedding design experiences in engineering science courses.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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