A problem solving approach for teaching engineering laboratories

Constantin Ciocanel, Mohammad H. Elahinia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


This paper presents the redevelopment method and process of the laboratory experiments for the Mechanics and Vibration Laboratory, MIME3390, in the Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Department at the University of Toledo. The redevelopment objective was to transform the learning process from a subject-based learning to a problem-solving learning. Particular objective was to provide the students with more hands-on experience and to challenge them by requesting the procedure for each laboratory experiment to be designed and carried out by each group of students. This senior level laboratory course consists of experiments in deformable solid mechanics including stress and deflection analysis, fatigue life evaluation, stability and mechanical vibration. Prerequisite courses for this laboratory are Mechanical Design I and Mechanical Vibrations. In line with the program objectives of the department, the following list of objectives has been defined for this course: "Upon successful completion of this course, the students should have: (1) become knowledgeable in the use of standard instrumentation for static and dynamic structural testing, such as strain gages, load frames, impact hammers, and spectrum analyzers; (2) reinforced material studied in previous mechanics and vibrations courses; (3) improved data analysis skills, and (4) further developed laboratory and technical writing skills." Prior to this redevelopment, as part of the subject-based approach, a classroom lecture preceded each laboratory session. The lecture consisted of the review of the theory pertaining to each experiment to help students refresh their knowledge on the subject. Additionally the description and procedure of the laboratory experiment was covered during this lecture. Prior to each class, the lecture notes, along with the laboratory procedures, were posted on the course website. The step-by-step instructions for each experiment were provided to assist the students in setting up and conducting each experiment. Throughout the semester, eleven experiments were performed. The students wrote individual reports on the experiments consisting of a summary of the acquired data, data analysis, and observations. However, due to the number of students and limited number of lab sessions it was difficult to provide the students with the real hands-on experience with the instrumentation and lab setup. As a result, during the lab the student mostly collected data according to the lab procedure and compiled a report that sometimes was inspired by samples of reports written by former students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006 - Mechanical Engineering Education
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Print)0791837904, 9780791837900
StatePublished - 2006
Event2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Nov 5 2006Nov 10 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of 2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006 - Mechanical Engineering Education


Other2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Education


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