Freshman engineering students at Rowan University are introduced to engineering design through a series of hands-on engineering laboratories and design projects. The objective is to involve them in incrementally progressive design experiences. For example, students design a modified flashlight switch, a complete flashlight, undertake the design of proof-of-concept experiments, and finish with a system-level design of an environmentally friendly coffee machine. Thus, the freshman design experience at Rowan specifically avoids `gimmicky' competitions and focuses instead on the design of real engineering devices such as flashlights and coffee machines. In order to achieve this focus, freshman students must be exposed to a variety of engineering principles, experimental methods, and design tools not typically encountered at the freshman level. The challenge is to achieve this ambitious focus while maintaining an atmosphere conducive to retention.
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