A new Machine Design Laboratory at Marquette University has been created to foster student exploration and promote “hands-on” and “minds-on” learning. Laboratory experiments have been developed to give students practical experiences and expose them to physical hardware, actual tools, and design challenges. Students face a range of real-world tasks: identify and select components, measure parameters (dimensions, speed, force), distinguish between normal and used (worn) components and between proper and abnormal behavior, reverse engineer systems, and justify design choices. The experiments serve to motivate the theory, spark interest, and promote discovery learning in the subject of machine design.
This paper presents details of the experiments in the Machine Design Laboratory and then explores the feasibility of sharing some of the experiences with students at other institutions through remote access technologies. The paper proposes steps towards achieving this goal and raises issues to be addressed for a pilot-study offering machine design experiences to students globally who have access to the internet.