Using a project-based learning approach to teach mechanical design to first-year engineering students

Eric Constans, Jennifer Kadlowec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Rowan University Mechanical Engineering program has recently adopted a new curriculum, based on more than a decade of experience and lessons learned. One important change was the increase in time allotted for project-based learning in each of the core areas: thermal-fluid sciences, mechanical design, and system dynamics/control. A major shortcoming of the previous curriculum (and of most traditional curricula) was that students were not exposed to "real" mechanical engineering content until the second semester of sophomore year - by this time many students had switched out of mechanical engineering altogether. To remedy this, and as an aid to retention, we have implemented a true mechanical design course in the first semester of freshman year. Since most mechanical design courses do not require differential equations, placement of the course into the freshman year seemed appropriate. In addition, the Rowan mechanical design course has two ambitious hands-on design projects that (it was hoped) would engage students and improve retention. This paper will describe the results of placing a mechanical design course so early in the curriculum, and will provide details on how the course was tailored to suit students recently arrived from high school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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