Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and experimental techniques based laboratory courses are used in the mechanical engineering curriculum to equip students with numerical and experimental abilities to solve design problems. Review of mechanical engineering curricula in US universities found no definite structure for the numerical and experimental based laboratory courses to support the core courses. Also, the authors found that due to lack of knowledge about the application of finite element analysis and lack of collaboration of experimental laboratories in the universities and colleges, students are unable to apply theory, numerical tool and experiment, when it comes to complete product design. To be effective product development engineers, students have to know how to use these engineering tools effectively for various mechanical systems to design a product with perfection. This motivated the authors to develop, teach, and evaluate a laboratory course before the senior design project, where students will have hands on experience with product design. The application of theoretical, numerical and experimental techniques, and their interconnectedness, will also be addressed in this new course. The main three learning objectives of this course were: (1) the ability to apply physical and mathematical models to analyze or design the mechanical systems; (2) the ability to use numerical tools (e.g., FEA) and a fundamental understanding of the limitations of such tools; and (3) the ability to correlate the theoretical knowledge with FEA and experimental findings. Some of the issues observed from the previously taught FEA laboratory related course are: (1) students do not understand how to use FEA tools in practical design problems; (2) students are unable to relate the theory with numerical and experimental result; (3) students do not understand the importance of verification of numerical results; and (4) students with knowledge of a particular analysis background have problems setting up the product design requirements dealing with different analysis systems. To overcome these difficulties, the proposed course will select design problems related to heat, fluid, vibration, and fracture and examine the overall design process including preliminary design, material selection, manufacturing, analysis, and testing. Simulating the complexity of “real world” engineering will prepare students for their senior design projects. The main benefits of this course are: (1) application of theoretical, numerical, and experimental techniques to solve a design problem, and (2) hands on experience with design problems.

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