Design projects for mechanics courses

Nicholas J. Salamon, Renata S. Engel

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In teaching undergraduate mechanics, it is important to regularly relate the theory to applications in a meaningful manner. We believe mechanical design is the most important and convenient application to employ for the following reasons: (1) it closely follows the mechanics theory, (2) it requires an understanding of the theory, (3) it introduces markets and mechanical technology to students, (4) it connects students with information available on the Internet and in libraries and (5) it broadens their world view of engineering through human factors, reliability, environmental, international diversity and other concerns. In this paper we select one student design project from an introductory strength of materials course and show how these reasons, when converted into course objectives, are met. The positive outcomes are clear in that students learn far more than analysis. Less clear is whether learning by doing' motivates and enables all learners. The negative outcome is that such a full-featured course is not for every student. Some simply cannot put abstract equations into practical use; others find it difficult working in teams. We summarize these and other challenges to implementing a design-based curriculum in undergraduate mechanics courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3377-3390
Number of pages14
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001
Event2001 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Peppers, Papers, Pueblos and Professors - Albuquerque, NM, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2001Jun 27 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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