Effects of Industrial Experience and Coursework During Sophomore and Junior Years on Student Learning of Engineering Design

[+] Author and Article Information
Reid Bailey

 University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400747, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4747rrbailey@virginia.edu

J. Mech. Des 129(7), 662-667 (Dec 16, 2006) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2722323 History: Received November 09, 2006; Revised December 16, 2006

While prior work indicates that seniors near the end of their capstone design course know more about design than first-year students, it is unclear where this knowledge is gained. We study two possible sources of seniors’ greater design knowledge: coursework during sophomore and junior years and industrial experience. The design process knowledge of seniors at the beginning of their capstone class was assessed and information about their industrial experience obtained. These data were compared to assessment data of first-year students at the end of an introduction to engineering design course. The results indicate that industrial experience greatly increases students’ recognition that documentation needs to occur throughout the design process. Seniors with industrial experience, however, are less aware that idea generation is an important part of design and are less able to allot time to different design activities than first-year students at the end of a hands-on introduction to engineering design course. For the remaining four aspects of design process knowledge assessed—namely, identifying the requirements for a project at the project’s outset, making decisions with a systematic process based on analysis, building and testing prototypes and final designs, and the overall layout of design including iteration—no differences are found between seniors with industrial experience and first-year students at the end of an introduction to engineering design course. One explanation for why industrial experience does not impact student’s design process knowledge positively in more areas than documentation is that students on internships only experience a small portion of a design process. Due to this “snapshot” experience, either (1) students are not able to learn a significant amount about the bigger picture design concepts or (2) students each learn about different aspects of design but, as a population, do not show any significant increase in design process knowledge. The one activity that all interns will experience is the necessity to document their work. Furthermore, seniors without industrial experience scored no differently than first-year students on any single aspect of design process knowledge measured. This indicates that analysis-heavy sophomore and junior classes do not impact design process knowledge.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Participants by major

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Figure 2

Gantt chart of design process students critiqued

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Figure 3

Idea generation: First-year versus seniors with experience. 2 pts: States that generating multiple concepts is good. 0 pts: No mention of idea generation.

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Figure 4

Time allotments: First-year versus seniors with experience. 2 pts: Explains where time is not allotted well. 1 pt: States that time is not allotted well (without explaining where time is not allotted well). 0 pts: No mention of time allotments.

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Figure 5

Documentation: First-year versus seniors with experience. 2 pts: States that documentation is needed throughout the process. 1 pt: States that more documentation is needed. 0 pts: No mention of documentation.

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Figure 6

Documentation: Seniors with experience versus seniors without experience




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