Implementation of an Innovation and Entrepreneur Mindset Concept into Mechanics of Materials Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exhibition


Mechanics of Materials is a fundamental course which mechanical engineering students need to take to fulfill the requirements of their program. Usually, the course is offered based on the traditional textbook approach. The material in the textbook is presented in the class and students are required to work on problems in the textbook as part of the course assignment. As instructors of this course, the authors have observed that many students are not successful in the course because they do not appreciate the real-world applications of the course. Many students believe concepts in this course are over-simplified and may not have real-world applications. As part of a Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) project, we propose using a real-world structure (wind turbine) to show the applications of the theory in this course. In this project, students need to use concepts they have learned in the Mechanics of Materials course to analyze a utility-scale wind turbine. Students also learn how to integrate and use their engineering knowledge from other subjects such as physics, CAD, statics, electrical engineering, and fluid mechanics to solve real-world problems. This is an open-ended problem and challenges the students to search and use innovative ideas to optimize the designs. The final part of the project asks students to calculate how the optimized design of the structure can economically impact the overall cost of the wind turbine. The results of a survey taken from the students in this course show that students appreciate the concept materials better when they see the real-world application of the subject.

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© 2018 American Society for Engineering Education