Cioc, Carmen; Haughton, Noela A; Cioc, Sorin; Napp, John B
This paper describes the implementation and the results of an online project-based learning (PBL) pedagogy in an advanced fluid mechanics course in a mechanical engineering technology program. This work is a close collaboration between engineering and education faculty and the engineering librarian and aligns with the New Research Areas (National Engineering Education Research Colloquies 2006) and the ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Technology Programs Criterion 3 (student outcomes, SLO 1 to 5) and Criterion 5 (curriculum, discipline specific content C, D and E).
Students were required to work in teams to design and dimension a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) duct system, a real-world expression of engineering thinking. Students applied information literacy skills to identify relevant engineering codes and standards, such as ASHRAE, and used previously learned content knowledge from various courses to finalize the project.
The PBL exercise was chosen as a culminating experience and in support of engineering competencies development. The results showed improvements in the flow of air in ducts content knowledge, professional communication skills, and the ability to collaborate as part of a team, including improving one’s ability to work with other students on assignments (mean=3.74 out of maximum of 4), listening to the ideas of others (mean=3.81), learning from the ideas of others (mean=3.77), and evaluating the ideas of others (mean=3.61). The students unanimously agreed that the project improved their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) knowledge beyond the classroom (mean =3.68) as well as their information seeking skills (2.84). Based on the students end of semester course evaluation, this PBL exercise improved their readiness for the workforce.