International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education
ISSN / EISSN : 0306-4190 / 2050-4586
Published by: SAGE Publications (10.1177)
Total articles ≅ 883
Latest articles in this journal
Published: 6 August 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211034165
Exposing students to hands-on experiments has been a common approach to illustrating complex physical phenomena that have been otherwise modelled solely mathematically. Compressible, isentropic flow in a duct is an example of such a phenomenon, and it is often demonstrated via a de Laval nozzle experiment. We have improved an existing converging/diverging nozzle experiment so that students can modify the location of the normal shock that develops in the diverging portion to better understand the relationship between the shock and the pressure. We have also improved the data acquisition system for this experiment and explained how visualisation of the standing shock is now possible. The results of the updated system demonstrate that the accuracy of the isentropic flow characteristics has not been lost. Through pre- and post-laboratory quizzes, we show the impact on student learning as well.
Published: 22 July 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211026207
Active student engagement, teaching via experience in real-life settings and learning by doing, are pedagogical strategies appropriate to improve student-reasoning skills. By building models, performing investigations, examining and explaining experimental results, using theoretical and computational thinking, constructing representations, undergraduates can acquire a deeper understanding of fundamental disciplinary concepts while reinforcing transversal abilities. In this framework, Engineering courses should be designed with the final objective to develop practical skills, focusing on hands-on activities. This contribution presents two different inquiry-based learning environments recently experienced at the University of Palermo in the context of bioelectronic and biomedical Engineering. The first study describes a laboratory activity about digital ophthalmologic signal classification; the second laboratory focuses on the analysis of the prefrontal cortex activation during a memory task using functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS). We introduce and discuss the learning workshops, with the research objective of improving current instruction and training in Engineering courses. Indeed, this contribution aims to suggest a conceptual framework in the form of a structured elective suite of modules tailored to meet the needs of Engineering graduates. The outcomes of both studies seem to highlight that self-directed learning activities could enhance students’ enthusiasm to learn and engagement in engineering investigations, contributing to improve the achievements of students and acquire a more effective learning approach.
Published: 29 June 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211025957
Admission to higher education is a milestone in the lives of young people. This can be accompanied by several changes in the student’s life such as a new place of residence, a new group of friends, and a new type of education. This entry into higher education can provide a new series of experiences, challenges, and newfound independence. However, it might also expose problems and difficulties, possibly hampering the student's personal and academic development. In order to ease the integration into higher education, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) has developed a Peer Mentoring Programme promoted by students already attending different FEUP courses (mentors) which intends to support the first-year students (mentees) in this phase of their life, coordinated by some teachers from each course. This social and academic integration program is supported by 4 core ideas: Integration, Support, Experience, and Sharing. This work provides insight into the way in which this program is organized at FEUP, highlighting the students’ participation (mentees and mentors), the main contributions that each of them values, their degree of satisfaction and involvement, activities that were developed, and some testimonies.
Published: 29 June 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211025954
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many university educators to redesign their teaching to online delivery. This can be an effective approach for theoretical and conceptual teaching, but it is challenging to provide practical laboratory experiences. The objective here is to design a hands-on laboratory experience that can safely be undertaken by students remotely and that has substantial educational content. A new experiment was designed featuring a bifilar pendulum that students build themselves from readily available low-cost materials. This simple vibrating system has a surprisingly rich set of interesting physical characteristics that provide several important learning points. Initial trials indicate good student experience with the new experiment, notably an appreciation for the “do-it-yourself” aspect of the apparatus construction. The self-directed features and multiple learning features of the new student experiment make it attractive for use during Covid-19 times and beyond.
Published: 24 June 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211027135
Recent research by KU Leuven showed that 33% of the engineering graduates in Flanders changed jobs in the first year, with 60% of those citing job content as a reason. Also, industry often reports that recent graduate hires lack the right skills for the job. It appears that students seem to enter the labour market less prepared both in perception and skill level. This study investigates the perceptions of first-year students on their future role and the competencies they need by developing an engineering role model on the business model of Tracey and Wiersema. The premise of the PREFER-model is that most vacancies for junior engineers fall into one of three roles: Product Leadership (i.e., focus on radical innovation), Operational Excellence (i.e., focus on process optimization), and Customer Intimacy (i.e., focus on client-tailored solutions). A survey was administered to first-year students from the three largest engineering degrees in Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands. A total of 197 students in Belgium (KU Leuven – Engineering Technology), 89 students in Ireland (TU Dublin – Engineering), and 372 students in the Netherlands (TU Delft – Aerospace Engineering) participated. In this survey, students were also asked to express their preference for three fictional job vacancies reflecting the three different roles. The results showed that first-year students do not have a clear view of the future and have an idealized perception of the engineering profession centred around the Product Leadership role. Students were also found to overestimate their level of preparedness when it comes to their mastery of competencies. It is suggested that having a discerning professional roles model as well as instruments that allow students to assess their role alignment and associated role competencies will help mitigate these issues.
Published: 23 June 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211026229
Lightboards are emerging technologies, helping to optimize online and flipped classroom environments by enabling the instructor to face the audience while writing on a transparent board. Although both commercial and do-it-yourself designs of lightboards are currently available, we have conducted a student-led engineering research and design project to optimize a lightboard design for broader use on campus to enhance the learning of future students. Through systematic side-by-side comparison, the team determined that Starphire Ultra-Clear™ glass is more appropriate than standard window glass for larger lightboard designs, despite its higher cost. The fully built and validated solution is housed in the campus Library for broad implementation into classroom environments throughout all institution outlets. The effectiveness of the lightboard is evaluated through a student comparison of short online videos generated using three separate formats: narrated slides, whiteboard, and the new lightboard. Students in a hybrid in-person and online class favored having the instructor facing the camera (76%), hand-written content (64%), and the use of more advanced technology (67%). Furthermore, through a pairwise polling comparison, students consistently favored the lightboard over narrated slides or simple whiteboard presentation formats.
Published: 22 May 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211014458
Although accreditation bodies emphasise communication competencies development in engineering curricula due to its importance for future engineers, the focus is often mainly on oral presentation and written reports. A communication activity was created to practice and reflect on students’ communication competencies including describing information in a short time, listening skills, and ask and respond to questions. This activity was implemented at five different European engineering universities involving 393 students. This study explores the effectiveness of this activity as a case-study of game-based learning to practise and reflect on engineering students’ communication competencies. A mixed-method approach measuring students’ communication performance, their perceived communication competencies, and the benefits of this activity to students was used to explore the game characteristics that make the activity effective. The findings of the scoring rubric and the questionnaire used showed that this activity is effective. Because it is engaging and set by rules, students actively participated during the activity, reflected on their effective and ineffective communication competencies, the existing communication barriers and styles, gained awareness, experienced communication in teams, and cooperated with different people. This study highlights the effectiveness of a small intervention using a proven communication activity, which is freely available as OpenCourseWare through TU Delft for anyone to use.
Published: 21 May 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211015650
Understanding how the academic performance of first year undergraduate students is influenced by home, personal and institutional factors is fundamental to delineate policies able to mitigate failure. This paper investigates possible correlations between the academic performance of students at the end of high school with their achievements at the end of first year university. Data for students in the Integrated Master in Mechanical Engineering (MIEM) program within the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto are analysed for the period 2016/2017 to 2019/2020. The students’ performance is measured by two metrics and the students are structured as a whole and by groups, according to their gender (Male/Female), type of secondary school (Public/Private), living place (Away/Home) and the rank of MIEM in their application list of options (Option 1/Option 2–6). The information is organized statistically and possible correlations between the data are investigated. The analysis reveals limited correlation between the two metrics, meaning that all students may exhibit good or poor results at the end of first year in MIEM, independent of their status at entrance. An unanticipated pattern is exhibited for the group Option 2–6, since it shows that, despite entering into MIEM without top application marks, the students in this group can perform as well as the others. This behavior is consistent over time.
Published: 12 May 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/03064190211014460
The differential continuity equation is elegantly derived in advanced fluid mechanics textbooks using the divergence theorem of Gauss, where the surface integral of the mass flux flowing out of a finite control volume is replaced by the volume integral of the divergence of the mass flux within the control volume. To avoid the need for introducing the Gauss divergence theorem in an introductory fluid mechanics course, introductory textbooks in fluid mechanics have opted to use a more simple approach, which depends on the consideration of an infinitesimal control volume and the use of Taylor series expansion. This approach, however, involves a first order truncation of the Taylor series expansion and the use of approximate equality signs which may imply to undergraduate students that the derived continuity equation is an approximate equation. The present study proposes an alternative derivation of the differential continuity equation using a finite control volume and is based on the simple concept of the antiderivative function and the fundamental theorem of calculus. The proposed derivation eliminates the need to formally introduce the Gauss divergence theorem in an introductory engineering fluid mechanics course while avoiding the use of truncated Taylor series expansion and approximate equality signs, hence providing a more simple and sound understanding of the derivation of the differential continuity equation to undergraduate engineering students.
Published: 20 April 2021
International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education; https://doi.org/10.1177/0306419020978175
This paper describes a method for unified parametric kinematic analysis of those planar mechanisms whose geometry can be defined with a set of independent vectorial loops, i.e. solvable independently; this covers a wide range of planar mechanisms. The method is developed by employing the well-known vectorial illustration, and vectorial-loop equations solved with the aid of complex polar algebra leading to a total of only nine unified/generic one-unknown parametric equations consisting of five equations for position analysis and two equations for velocity and acceleration analysis each. Then, the kinematics of joints and mass centers are manifested as resultants of a few known vectors. This method is needless of relative-velocities, relative-accelerations, instantaneous centers of rotation and Kennedy’s Theorem dominantly used in the literature, especially textbooks. The efficiency of the method is demonstrated by its application to a complex mechanism through only eight unified equations, and simultaneously compared to the solution using the textbook common (Raven’s) method which required the derivation of 67 extra equations to get the same results. This reveals the fact that the method is not only a powerful tool for mechanical designers but a most powerful and efficient method for teaching and learning the kinematics of planar mechanisms.