A Review of Component Functional Templates as an Engineering Design Education Aid


Functional modeling is an essential part of engineering design education. At the University of Missouri-Rolla, functional modeling is taught in an introductory engineering design course, required of every freshman-engineering student, and is exhibited through some graduate student level courses as well. In these courses, often an active learning reverse engineering experimentation is used to introduce the students to functional modeling. They are required to hypothesize the function of toys such as a foam disc launcher or a Bumble Ball, and then dissect the toy to determine the actual functions portrayed inside the product. The functions are then compiled into a full system model of the product. After completing this engaging in-class activity however, the quality of the functional models produced individually by the students was not desirable. These results displayed a clear disconnect between thinking in terms of a product's components and a product's functionality. Therefore, a survey was conducted of both sophomore and graduate level engineering students about their functional modeling learning experience. Based on the in-class activity and survey results, an educational tool, component functional templates, was derived to address this need that links common product components with generally recognized functionality. It is expected that, as a functional modeling teaching aid, the component functional templates will help the students associate functionality to components and in time, begin to think functionally during the engineering design process.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department

Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Functional Modeling; Active Learning Reverse Engineering; Component Functional Templates; Engineering Design Course; Full System Model; In-Class Activity; Teaching -- Aids and devices

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2007 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2007