A new Machine Design Laboratory at Marquette University has been created to foster student exploration with hardware and real-world systems. The Laboratory incorporates areas for teaching and training, and has been designed to promote “hands-on” and “minds-on” learning. It reflects the spirit of transformational learning that is a theme in the College of Engineering.
The goal was to create discovery learning oriented experiments for a required junior-level “Design of Machine Elements” course in mechanical engineering that would give students practical experiences and expose them to physical hardware, actual tools, and real-world design challenges. In the experiments 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 and spark interest in the subject of machine design.
This paper presents details of the experiments and summarizes student reactions and our experiences in the Machine Design Laboratory. In addition, the paper provides some insights for others who may wish to develop similar types of experiments.