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Leveling the Playfield: Development of Multimedia Resources for Hands-On Learning
Though the central premise of engineering is to design artifacts, processes, systems to solve problems informed by science and technology, at the most rudimentary level, transforming the design into a physical object completes the solution. Grand Valley State University (GVSU) engineering program while emphasizing theoretical development, promotes transforming the design into a physical system by hands-on-teaching. The hands-on philosophy is so ingrained in the curriculum, that it is expected that all students, at any level undergraduate or graduate, are capable of operating common machine tools and equipment to translate their design projects into a functioning prototype. Students who enter GVSU- Engineering with no hands-on knowledge may struggle to participate in their projects. This negatively impacts the confidence of the student, making it a difficult skill gap to recover from. Inspired by initiatives like ‘Khan Academy’ and recent success of online courses, an attempt is made to address the hands-on knowledge gap. A GVSU-hosted website was developed as a learning tool that teaches safety, scientific theory, and operation of the processes and equipment used by engineering students to create projects. Development of the web based modules are targeted to two groups of students. The first group needs background knowledge for a class or certification to safely operate a machine tool. The second group is students that need guidance and resources for design projects which are often sponsored by external industry partners. A how-to video series demonstrates the basic concepts, theory, tips and tricks, safety, and operation of various processes. A cheat-sheet style PDF accompanies each video for rapid learning. Lastly, a “web of knowledge” space on the website allows users to converge on resources specific to their needs. This paper describes the modules of this non-intimidating learning environment which will address the skill gap issues.