Mechanical Dissection in an Introductory Engineering Design Module

Mechanical Dissection in an Introductory Engineering Design Module

A. McLaren, P. Jenkins (2010).  Mechanical Dissection in an Introductory Engineering Design Module. 6.


The introductory design module for first year students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde uses mechanical dissection as a focus for learning activities that seek to integrate engineering science with the prior knowledge of the students. First year groups select and remove components from a scrap motor car, and produce a technical description of the system including consideration of function, mechanics, materials and manufacturing processes.

Personal and professional skills and interpersonal skills are developed through enquiry based learning. This encourages the students to identify problems and engage in analysis requiring estimation and uncertainty; sourcing information in a critical manner to integrate in their description of the chosen component. Group and communication skills are developed through peer discussion and the presentation of their research in the form of a poster and formal seminar. Student feedback indicates a high level of enjoyment of, and engagement in many of the learning activities. However, focus group interviews and questionnaire responses indicate that the key area of metallurgy has proved to be difficult for many students, probably due to a lack of relevant background knowledge.

Further development of the learning activities in metallurgy is planned, including pre-reading and peer instruction to prepare the students for the staff-led materials examination sessions. Continuing evaluation of the learning experiences of the students will be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of these developments.


Authors (New): 
Andrew McLaren
Peter Jenkins
University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom
Mechanical Dissection
Introductory course
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