Experiences in the Integration of Design Across the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Ashok Midha, Missouri University of Science and Technology
J. M. Starkey
D. P. DeWitt
R. W. Fox

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The Faculty of the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University have effected a major change in the Purdue Mechanical Engineering program by integrating design throughout the curriculum. In doing so, a significant level of faculty interaction has been achieved as well. The goals of the curriculum revision are: (1) to improve student skills in how to solve open-ended design problems, (2) to reduce the core of the curriculum to allow flexibility in course selection, and allow time for solving design problems, (3) to improve student skills in team work and communications, and (4) to improve student skills in using computers as tools for solving engineering problems. Reduction of the core allowed the addition of a sophomore cornerstone design course. This cornerstone course teaches students how to solve open-ended problems, bridging the gap between solution strategies that are effective for the science and mathematics courses, and those needed to solve open-ended engineering problems. The design fundamentals taught in the cornerstone course are applied in the core courses, such as heat transfer, thermodynamics, instrumentation, and machine design. The senior design experience comes primarily from a design elective and the capstone design course. This paper presents an overview of the curriculum revision process, and the changes which resulted from it. It also discusses the issues associated with infusing design projects into core courses which have traditionally focused on teaching engineering science fundamentals. Plans for the future evolution of the curriculum are also discussed.