In GE 1103 Engineering Design, first-year students work in teams of three or four on design practice modules that incorporate a broad range of engineering disciplines to develop solutions to real problems. Problems addressed in the course include humanitarian demining in third world countries, increased ozone in the troposphere, and the multiple problems experienced by refugees in troubled areas like Goma, Zaire.
The class serves several functions: first, it introduces students to the different disciplines within engineering; second, it helps students gain an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of engineering problem-solving; third, the class provides students with the opportunity to address a range of valuable problems; and fourth, it allows the faculty to integrate their personal experiences and expertise with a set of core topics in engineering and design. The course integrates with a campus-wide E-Team recruiting effort throughout the school's Entrepreneurship Program.
This project supports the establishment of a design studio for the first two semesters of the interdisciplinary design curriculum at RPI. The curriculum, designed to support students in independent design work, follows on the Introduction to Engineering Design course already offered. The studio provides ongoing support for E-Teams after IED, and includes shop equipment for modeling, digital cameras, and computers with scanners and printers.
IIT launched its Invention and Innovation Project in the fall of 1995. The class curriculum goes beyond the traditional lecture style by focusing on an academic experience based on personal coaching. The idea is to give the students an opportunity to look at engineering projects as an art – the art of invention. To emphasize this point, the class is structured as a studio class, such as those common in architecture and fine arts programs, but with a technical content. There are fifteen students in each studio, which behave as a small, high-tech firm engaged in developing new products.
In one semester, the products must move from concept to design, prototype, patent, and business plan. NCIIA funding provides money to the student teams for project development and commercialization, as well as additional equipment for class use. Thus far the class has produced a team that won Advanced E-Team funding, the Automotive Ozone Pollution Fighter. Also, two products are nearing commercialization: a portable ladder for hunters, and a car seat for infants that massages them as the car moves. The class is taught every semester at IIT. A continuation of support for Dr. Ruiz's class was approved in the October 1996 round.
Mechatronics is the integration of mechanical systems and electronics focusing on sensors and actuators technology. This mechatronics design course takes an interdisciplinary approach by integrating both mechanical and electrical elements of design. The program is a two-course sequence involving about sixty students per semester, in which E-Teams form and design products. Both engineering and marketing students are on each E-Team. Students are encouraged to develop, patent, and market their inventions.
The first course, Mechatronics Design, features an acute emphasis on learning how to interface and control a series of sensors and actuators with a microprocessor. Students form teams, envision a product, and then move onto the second course, Mechatronics Product Development. This course includes students from business-related fields. Teams develop and create plans to market the envisioned product. The culmination of the two-course mechatronics sequence is an event at which students publicly exhibit their products. This event is an opportunity for students to find the encouragement and support to continue developing their innovations.
Through participating in E-Teams in the Invention and Design course at the University of Virginia, students study the invention process and learn how to create environmentally conscious designs and products. With this NCIIA grant, the course modules were altered to incorporate hands-on innovation. The objective was to provide students with enough financial and development support to make significant progress toward patenting and marketing new technologies that both make a profit and make the world a better place to live. This course has generated several Advanced E-Teams, including the Soil Aeration E-Team and the Inventor's Toolkit E-Team. Professor Gorman also works with the Solar Airship E-Team.