Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Engineering--Study and teaching


Chemical Engineering | Civil Engineering | Engineering Education | Mechanical Engineering | Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering


This paper describes how mechanical and civil engineering students are introduced to and develop an understanding of mechanics concepts through a sequence of integrated courses as part of a new curriculum taken during the freshman and sophomore years. The Multi- Disciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral is a four-semester sequence of engineering courses, matched closely with the development of students’ mathematical sophistication and analytical capabilities and integrated with course work in the sciences. Students develop a conceptual understanding of engineering basics in this series of courses, which stress practical applications of these principles. Mechanics concepts are introduced in a pair of first year courses, EAS107P, Project-Based Introduction to Engineering and EAS112, Methods of Engineering Analysis. During the second year, students’ understanding of these concepts is further developed in three courses, two offered during the fall semester, EAS211, Introduction to Modeling of Engineering Systems and EAS213, Materials in Engineering Systems and one during the spring semester, EAS222, Fundamentals of Mechanics and Materials. In the third semester of discipline specific classes, ME300 Rigid Body Dynamics and CE312 Structural Analysis for mechanical and civil engineering respectively, students are evaluated compared to their peers who have either transferred in from other universities or taken a previous traditional sequence of mechanics courses. The first course, EAS107P, introduces students to concepts related to structural systems and trusses, such as internal and external forces, reactions, compression and tension. This is done in the context of a team project in which students gain a qualitative understanding of these concepts using computer simulation models. In the second course EAS112, students use computer tools such as spreadsheets to solve problems including the analysis of trusses. Mechanics of materials are explored as students use spreadsheets to analyze tensile test properties. In the second year, resolution of forces is further developed in EAS211 as students use force balances to solve various statics problems. Students study the properties, behavior and application of materials in EAS213, including discussion of such concepts as torsion, compression, tension, fatigue, creep and fracture. This course focuses on the differences between materials and selection of materials for engineering applications. In EAS222, students develop an understanding of the basic principles and applications of engineering mechanics including the behavior of structures under various loads, bending and Mohr’s circle. This paper discusses how the mechanics topics are threaded through this sequence of courses and how mastery of these topics is being assessed at the disciplinary level in the junior year. Assessment of students’ understanding of mechanics topics includes the following instruments: data drawn from quiz/exam grades and/or particular question(s) on exams/quizzes related to specific concepts; and faculty observations gathered using a survey tool. Our current data evaluates the first group of students to reach the junior level in the new curriculum that was implemented during the 2004-05 academic year.


© 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publisher Citation

Nocito-Gobel, J., Broderick, G., Daniels, S., Collura, M. & Stanley, R. (2007, June), Civil And Mechanical Engineering Students Learning Mechanics In A Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral. Paper presented at 2007 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.