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Review of Project-Based Learning in a Junior Level Mechanical Engineering Course
Starting with a machine functional description, operating conditions, and limited specifications/ design requirements, students interpreted the given information in engineering terms of parameters and values, creating detailed engineering specifications. All projects required visualization and modeling. Stress analysis was performed using a combination CAD models and hand calculations. Students were tasked with developing static, dynamic, and cyclic loads. Fatigue life and maximum loadings were to be considered in the stress analyses. Students were limited to designing specific engineering elements to focus their efforts into time-appropriate projects. Design work included making an engineering drawing of the device assembly, determining power requirements, stress analysis of major frame/body in critical locations. Shafts, threaded fasteners, springs, , power transmission (belts, chains or gearing), keys, couplings, and bearings were also required design elements, selecting actual commercial components where possible, applying appropriate vendor engineering data in lieu of generic textbook data. Students were required to critic their final design, suggesting revisions based on their final design results.
Variations in the project implementation were reviewed and analyzed over 10 years for success, with varying project content and structure. Course size also varied and had much to do with the project structure.
Project implementation was compared to those found in the current literature for project-based learning, focusing on machine design.