Enhancement and assessment of a non-traditional engineering design course

John T. Tester, Carol Haden, Jerry Hatfield

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


At Northern Arizona University, an interdisciplinary sophomore design course - EGR 286 - has undergone a fundamental shift in its innovative and award-winning course structure. This shift is part of a Hewlett Foundation-supported development effort to encourage recruitment and retention of engineering students, with an emphasis on under-represented student populations. The course revitalization is centered upon enabling more direct student participation in design projects. It begins with two-person design teams that design, build and test weekly projects involving LEGO® parts, sensors, and the Robotic Command eXplorer (RCX). Control of the automated systems requires programming in both RoboLab (a Lab View™ derivative) and in the "Not Quite C" (NQC) environments. The course develops in the semester to finally encompass larger design teams of fourteen students, with each team designing a complex, autonomous, robotic-styled system. An important part of this course development is the integration of assessment procedures that record the students" perception of learning and enthusiasm. We present an overview of the course enhancements and objectives. Assessment categories include the students" self-efficacy in their ability to design/build/test electro-mechanical devices, as well as their level of enthusiasm and motivation towards engineering as a chosen career. The assessments are accomplished before and after the course revisions for comparison.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5615-5626
Number of pages12
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2005
Event2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: The Changing Landscape of Engineering and Technology Education in a Global World - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 12 2005Jun 15 2005


  • Design education
  • Engineering education
  • Legos
  • Mindstorms
  • Student retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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