Integrating the mechanical engineering curriculum using a long-term green design project - The planetary gearset

Eric Constans, Shivakumar I. Ranganathan, Wei Xue

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Students at the Rowan University department of Mechanical Engineering have been assigned a long-term, large-scale design/build project in order to study the effects of integrating the curriculum on subject matter retention and design efficacy. The project, a bench-scale hybrid electric powertrain system, is designed, analyzed and fabricated by students in six modules, starting in their sophomore year and culminating in their final semester as seniors. This complex project has been selected in order to integrate the core mechanical engineering courses: Mechanical Design, Thermodynamics, System Dynamics and Control, and Fluid Mechanics. A bench-scale hybrid-electric vehicle powertrain has sufficient complexity to involve all Mechanical Engineering disciplines and the simplicity to be built by students over the course of five semesters. The research is designed to test two hypotheses: 1. A long-term design project that integrates knowledge from multiple courses strengthens student knowledge retention. 2. A large-scale design project requiring tools from many courses improves student problem-solving and design skills. By integrating five semesters of the mechanical engineering curriculum into a cohesive whole, this project has the potential to transform the way undergraduate education is delivered. Before and after testing is being conducted to assess: a) Change in retention between courses and b) Change in student problem-solving and design skills. The centerpiece of the hybrid powertrain is the planetary gearset, which combines power from the air engine and electric motor to produce the desired output speed at the wheels. During the fall semester of their Junior year, the students design and fabricate a small planetary gearset, and conduct tests to assess its performance. The planetary gearset project is conducted in Machine Design, a core mechanical engineering course. This paper describes the planetary gearset assignment only - a description of the full hybrid powertrain project is given the papers listed in the References. Based on student feedback, an overwhelming majority of the students felt that the "hands on" project was valuable in the Machine Design course and enjoyed working on the project.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
    Volume122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
    Issue number122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for...
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
    Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
    Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Engineering(all)

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