Recent engineering education research has concluded that most engineering curricula do not promote attainment of many characteristics desired in practicing engineers. Methods to attain these characteristics include both project-based learning (PBL) and simulation of workplace situations in the educational environment. The presenter will outline the use of both PBL and workplace simulation through the implementation of a semester-long project in a senior-level Data Acquisition course taught out of the Department of Engineering Technology at Northern Michigan University. A typical undergraduate experimental analysis or data acquisition course will review topics including; sensoring, hardware requirements, testing techniques, computer integration, software use, and possible application of these concepts to actual acquisition of data from a process control test bench or other defined system. While the above topics are being covered in a data acquisition course at NMU, they are incorporated into a semester long project which very closely resembles a project that might have to be done in the work environment. The students are asked to determine something they want to know about how their personal vehicle operates. Project ideas are reviewed by the instructor and may be modified based on the project complexity and facility/equipment support required. Students are then put to the task of implementing a test to answer their question. This includes; determination and procurement of sensoring equipment, development of test plan, execution of the test plan, analysis of results, and presentation/documentation of results. Examples of projects include; analysis of RESTORE© on cylinder pressures, effect of brake pad material on brake rotor temperatures, characterization of alternator output, vehicle warm-up time, fuel economy vs. tire pressure, etc. Efforts to “Bridge-the-Gap” in other courses at NMU, including Quality Control, Mechanical Design, and CNC Manufacturing, will also be briefly discussed.
Martin, Michael W., "Bridging the Gap between the Industrial Environment and the Classroom via Project-Based Learning" (2010). Presentation. Paper 1.