Course Reviews from E5 2005

Here are the student responses to survey questions asked after the Fall, 2005, Engineering Methodology course, in which student groups created either a hurdy-gurdy, pennywhistle, or glockenspiel, and had a computer play a tune on the instrument.

What were the goals of this course?

Introduce students to the principles involved in engineering problem solving and ideas of what the field of engineering encompasses
Introduce students to engin concepts
The goals of this course were to get an introduction into engineering concepts and methods through various projects and lectures.
To apply some simple fundamentals of engineering and to get a feel for the engineering department through guest lectures.
My personal goals for this course were to familiarize myself with a general idea of what engineering entails. I've never taken a Physics or Engineering class before, so this was totally new for me. In terms of class goals, they seemed to be directed to a very broad but helpful overview to different areas/ways in which technical skills can be applied (in terms on hands-on trying things out and working from start to finish.) I really liked how much freedom we had with each project and how flexible you were in letting us try our own ideas and helping us to make them work, even if they were rediculous!
Learn about engineering in general
To give a fairly wide intro to engineering....test the waters, know the people, etc.
To grasp a basic understanding of what engineering truly is.
Theoretically, to learn whether we wanted to be engineers or not, learn useful engineeringn skills, and get to know the department.
The course was mainly a tool to generate interest in the engineering profession by providing challenges that would exercise group cooperation and that would also be exciting. The goal was to be inspired by these projects to continue with engineering.
The goals were to allow us to be creative and innovative before we learn techniques in engineering.
To give a taste of Engineering to show if you want to be an enginneer.
Give students experience with the different sections in engineering
To introduce us to the field of engineering and some simple yet interesting engineering projects that took a lot of thought.
to get acquainted with engineering practice (to get a taste of what engineering is)
To introduce us to the basic concepts of engineering, without frightening us away from the department
My goals were to get a broad overview of engineering, to have fun with the projects and to learn some basic skills (such as making a website, programming in Matlab, using the machine shop).
To help students understand what people with engin degrees can do.
Teach problem solving techniques used by engineers, and to show the methods used to construct different machines.
To understand a little bit about what engineers do.
To explore engineering; what it involves, various facets of it and what it's like.
To get hands on experience and an introduction to basic engineering.


I. Has this course helped you learn to use any tools or techniques to solve problems? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.217, standard deviation: 0.850

An introduction to matlab as a software for mathematical computations was very good. Teamwork skills were also a part of all our projects, which was good to encounter in an intro engineering course since engineering is really all abput teamwork
An introduction into matlab and solid works which will be important tools later on was also very helpful.
I feel like I learned a lot in SolidWorks, even though it would have been a little more interesting/applicable if we knew what we were designing in that program. The step-by-step tutorial was very helpful and explanatory, but it would have made a big difference if I'd known what it was I was designing. Maybe there could be a short class discussion - in terms of presenting a problem of design for a machine or contraption, and then having everybody draw their own ideas of what kind of mechanism (as simple as possible) would be useful to solve the problem - and then to try to create it in solidworks and see what it did.
One class went into dept on how to incorporate some linear algebra in a physics problem, this I found interesting, to see how the fields related.
plan in advance more rather that "winging it." work in vertical, rather than in parallel
It has introduced me to programs that I will possibly use in E6.
What we learned in MatLab in class didn't have anything to do with our projects. What we learned in MatLab for our projects wasn't.
this was my first experience with working in a machine shop, and I thought that it was very true that the actual grunt work of the project is an important part of engineering.
I'm more familiar with the machine shop, know more about Matlab than I did before, and learned how to work in groups with Swatties, who tend to all want to be in charge.
I learned how to use some tools in machine shop (like drilling, cutting, gluing, sanding, etc) which I've never done before. I get to know what Solidworks and Matlab do, though I did not actually learn any of them.
while making our instruments we all had to work together to trouble shoot when we encountered problems with design or programming
I thought it was really useful to get an introduction to Matlab.
This was my first time using a workshop. I feel much more confident in my ability to create something.
The project was extremely helpful.
Working around disfunctional solenoids was a tough one.
introduction to some programming language and the solidworks program experience in the wood shop


II.  Has this course helped you learn to collaborate better with others? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.095, standard deviation: 1.044

Mostly all our work was done in groups so by the end of the semester most students would have developed or improved their teamwork skills.
Musical instrument project
Working in a group to brainstorm was very helpful, but there is also the interesting group dynamic of having to compromise some of your own ideas as well as taking into account the ideas of others.
This was a WONDERFUL group work class. My group members were wonderful and we all struggled a little bit at the beginning as to what ideas to use and how to accomplish things, and I feel like by the end of the semester, we all work extremely well together and we really have learned to appreciate and use each other's ideas. This has been the most wonderful part of the class.
The instrument project required alot of group work, which required alot of brainstorming. This project I think helped tremendously in working with a group.
When we all had to make that parachute, it was a very effective project and of course building the instrument. It taught me how to work together as a team and I think we all had good time with it.
I think many Swattie freshmen come in with the mentality of being the leader in a group, the one who everyone listens to, and that doesn't work when there's 4 or 5 of you. However, putting 4 or 5 competent people together is wonderful and different.
The projects required group discussion and collaboration, which I thought was one of the most valuable aspects of the course--not only did it make it fun, but it represents how true engineering is carried out.
See last comment, please.
What I said above really applies to this as well. I also had to learn that it was okay to divide up work, to let other people be in control.
It think my group and I got along well, and I did get to know many new people this way, but I don't think it really CHANGED the way I deal with groups. (In other words, I'm not sure what collaborating "better" would entail.)
I didn't like most of my group, and I did not do much about the situation.
All group work except for webpaper- get to know other people and work with others


III.  Has this course helped you learn to design an engineering system? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.261, standard deviation: 0.810

Learning to use solidworks did open up some doors for designong engineering systems but except for the musical instruments, their wasn't a lot of time spent engaging in actual engineering systems designs.
see II
Designing our musical instruments was a challenge, but still very enjoyable. We had to think about so many aspects like how much time we had to work with. The layout of our musical instrument, and how we would connect the solenoids to our instrument.
I feel like I (and the people in my group) mostly used ideas which were familiar to us - nothing new in terms of designing systems or contraptions. The pulley discussion in class was VERY interesting, but because it was a little bit complex to comprehend visually (for me), it was difficult to try to apply that to anything we were building. Overall, I enjoyed building our instrument, but I don't feel like it was something I couldn't have done without having taking the class (with the exception of having the woodshop/metalshop available).
I learned a great deal about designing a system, but at times I felt like I didn't understand the details, which was frustrating. For example, I never got a firm grasp on programming with Matlab.
If I am clear on what you mean by an engineering system, then yes, because I feel like I am now a bit better at wrapping my head around a problem and making a tentative plan with the group.
I found it challanging to set up musical instruments and it's exciting to find out that engineering actually has challanges!
Yes, it made you stop and think about how to create something so that it functioned correctly, efficiently and optimally.
Learnt to plan first and then anticipate problems. Also, it showed how it can be hard to get something right the first time, but you need to keep trying.
I learned about different things to enhance my engineering project, and various things to take into consideration.
I didn't do much of the programming for the musical instrument and I don't think everybody in the group learned about every aspect of the process.


IV.  What level of effort do you think you gave this course? (1 = my very best, 4 = I barely did anything, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.217, standard deviation: 0.600

1/2 credit course where we were promised no HW...I'd consider work outside of class HW
I think because the class met so infrequently (just on Tuesdays) and the days we did meet were fairly incontinuitous in terms of material, it was difficult to try to keep a perspective of what we were doing in the class. Each individual class and lecture was interesting, but sometimes it was hard to take what we were learning in lecture and apply it to our projects outside of class. It kind of felt like two separate courses - one was a lecture series, and one was a shop class. THis was great! But sometimes it was hard to connect the two, and the varying assignments for both classes sometime overlapped and it was hard to maneage time to complete them all on time, especially when some of the dorm computers aren't always reliable for connecting to solidworks or Dreamweaver.
For a 1/2 credit course I think I gave a very very good effort.
Since I plan to be an engineering major, I felt that I would only be cheating myself if I didn't work as hard as I could on the projects.
I could have worked harder, and probably should have in some cases.
I went to almost every lectures (I missed only one). I could not make to regular workshop as I have Physics 6, to which I had to devote more attention, on that day .
I spent a lot of time and effort working on my research paper and instrument but towards the end of the semester I neglected a few of the matlab assignements because i was spending so much time on the instrument
I really enjoyed the projects, and worked as much as I could, but I did have other courses that did demand a lot more attention.
I did not feel much pressure to turn things in, and too much pressure from other courses, so E5 was less of a priority.


V.  Did the workload of the course meet your expectations? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.522, standard deviation: 1.039

I was a little surprised by how long it took to do the solidwork tutorial.
I thought the workload was a little bit more random than I expected it to be. The readings were very interesting and I very much enjoyed them, but the research paper was a bit tedious because it seemed like we were just responsible for gathering information and writing it onto a different page. Maybe next time you could assign, instead of an online paper, a 5-10 minute presentation on each person's topic and they could be divided between one or two classes? I think that would make everyone's topic much more available to everyone and it would be so interesting to hear about what everone else is learning. I know the papers are all accessible via the webpages, but I think because of lack of time and other homework (for other classes), people aren't as inclined to sit down in their dorm room and read everyone else's papers. I think we would all learn much more if everyone gave a short presentation. Maybe even in groups of two or three.
a little more work/time then expected for an half cred course.
The paper through me off a bit--a bit much for a half credit course
We were told there would be almost no work outside of class: maybe one or two assignments. We had the paper and I've put in many extra hours (as has my whole group) on our instrument project. Plus SolidWorks I and II, MatLab I and II... even the tennis ball drop.
If only this were a full credit class...
I thought there was not going to be any work outside the projects. The research paper and MatLab assignments threw me off.
I think it would have been better to have more instruction for the musical instrument.
Didn't expect to do some of the things I got to do.
Someone told me that the course had no work outside of class, which was not entirely true, but this added work was not really a problem most of the time.
since I was taking two science courses in physics and chem (excluding a math class) including a writing course, I found E5's project --though they should be doable-- are stressful.
It was pretty much what i expected, although at some times more time consuming then i thought a .5 credit course would be. I definitely spent more time working on projects for it then i spent working on assignments in a couple of my full credit classes.
I actually thought the workload was pretty heavy considering it was a half credit course. Maybe the work wasn't quite at the level of a one-credit course, but it came close at times.
No work outside of the classroom turned out to be a false lure to get students into the class.
I think the projects were just what I was looking for.
I expected expansive amounts of work with loads of pressure.

VI.  Were the guest lectures worthwhile? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.304, standard deviation: 0.876

helpful as intros
I thought Professor Cheever's lecture about the heart tissue and pulse stimulator very interesting.
Some of the lectures (mainly from visitors) seemed a bit scattered and it was hard to tell how they fit into our curriculum of working on our projects. I'm not planning on majoring in Engineering, (I wasn't even before I enrolled for this class, don't worry!) so maybe I'm not the best person to answer this question. If I were more interested in the mathematical sciences of Engineering, I might have been able to find more interest in the lectures.
I like learning about the different career paths various engineers chose. It enlightened me into how vast the engineering realm is.
some were and some weren't Notable lectures were: Bruce Maxwell The Swarthmore Dude who majored in music
I didn't see how some of them related, but it was nice to see the faces of the engin department. I liked the alum talk a lot. Seeing what more alums did out of Swat engineering would have been very nice.
With a couple exceptions, the lectures really excited me about all the possibilities of technology.
I really liked the one on robots and the one on learning styles.
I found them somewhat hard to follow and I couldn't always figure out how they applied to what we were doing.
Somewhat. I kinda learn how engineering people solve the problems, care about, and learn from guest speakers.
Some of them were very interesting, others not as much. This is probably mainly due to my particular engineering intrests, and not the lectures themselves.
I loved listening to all the things everyone in the department does.
Most of them were very interesting with new things to share, and other were not.


VII.  Did you enjoy learning how to create and modify a website? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 1.696, standard deviation: 1.146

I sort of enjoyed this assignment as one of the best parts of this course.
already knew..taught myself..course taught me nothing
Having a website was one of my favorite parts of the course. I think we could do more Dreamweaver learning how to use the program more fully.
This was a very useful tool in the class. I never expected to create my own website! ANd thank you SO much for being so willing to help us with these and for being so flexible with our mistakes!
I'm Addicted!
This tool will definitely help me in the future and it has made building a website very, very easy.
I thought it was interesting at first, but I would've liked to have learned more ways I could "razz" it up.
This is a very useful tool.
I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know.
I loved this! I will enjoy having it.
definitely. this is the first time i have a free personal webpage.
I had never done anything with websites before so i thought just begining to see how websites worked was really exciting and enlightening.
It was interesting, but having to turn things in via the website before I was comfortable with it was a pain.


VIII.  Should an activity like the "Tennis Ball Drop" be included in the future? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 1.333, standard deviation: 0.658

Definately, this was very fun and also required more than just a lazy effort.
It was a great sort of 'icebreaker' for the class, and it was fun.
It was pretty fun as far as a group project, but I can't say that i learned anything pertinent from the project.
YES ABSOLUTELY! THis was so much fun! ANd I think it was a VERY good idea to make the groups different for the tennis ball and the musical instrument. It was nice to be able to meet more people and work with different sets of ideas. Also, the amount of time dedicated to the project was perfect. Not too much and not too little. And thank you for supplying us with the materials. That made life so much easier!
Good intro actuvity
An intitial group project was good and it got us thinking and working together.
I thought that the scale of the tennis ball project was just right--any more ambitious might be daunting for an introductory endeavor
Yes...that was so much fun and a good project to ease into the course.
It was fun and a good bonding experience.
This was lots of fun and was a team-building experience.
It's fantastic! (though our group failed)
It was a really fun way to start off the semester. It made me really excited about the class.
This was a good introduction to the course, and also to other people in the class.
It helped me get to know other engin kids in my dorm.
It helped me work with others on a project.
Good, fun, not too difficult introduction to engineering


IX.  Did you find the lectures (on engineering contexts, ethics, and Matlab) interesting/useful? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 2.272, standard deviation: 0.703

most of it was my own work
They were useful, but I can't say they were all interesting.
I thought they were interesting, particularly the ethics lecture. I'd never thought about a scenario like your friend who decided not to use the Holocaust data - I still think about what I would do in a situation like that and I still don't know.
Most of the time, I truly didn't know what you were talking about because I have never done any programming before... so it was all just like.. huh..?
I feel like I didn't really learn much about engineering as a career and that was by far the main reason I took the course.
I liked learning about the historical context of engineering most.
Matlab wasn't very useful.
Ethics discussions were my favorites, and Matlab was mostly repeat for me (but most people have not used it so I realize those were very necessary).
Not as much as reading the online instructions (I think bcos of the size of the class)
The ones I could relate to were very interesting. Some (such as matlab) were tedious because I am totally unfamiliar with matrices.


X.  Did you find the musical instrument project interesting/worthwhile? (1 = very much, 4 = not at all, 5 = not applicable)

mean: 1.565, standard deviation: 0.788

shows how much work and detail engin requires
I thought it was a great project to be able to incorporate music into engineering.
This was one of my favorite thigns I've don't all semester! IN any of my classes! This was an excellent test in teamwork and time maneagment and it was wonderful to be acquainted with the machine shop. I would definitely do this project again next year, but maybe with everyone creating glockenspiels or another "hit it" instrument instead of one where there was wind or pressing and rolling involved. I think it was very satisfying to have the glockenspiel work, and it was probably a more meaningful and positive experience for people whose instrument was successful. Maybe you could design a small drum, glockenspiels, triangles, tambourines.
loved it
It was very interesting and challenging especially for my group with the glockenspiel. WE had some very rough times but in the end when we all pulled together and had a finished product that was actually programmed, it was all worth it in the end.
A lot of work and a LOT of frustration what, really, do I come out of it with?
This project really got at the heart of what (I think) engineering is about--to work hard on a problem with others and feeling proud at the final product.
It was fun, yet frustrating.
I liked having it done, but not all the parts of doing it. Our group lacked direction.
A great idea, although frustrating at times.
it was really fun, although at times really frusturating. Definitely a good experience.
This was a greaet idea! I really enjoyed it!
It was a great learning process
It was very interesting, but I think the Hurdy Gurdy was doomed from the beginning.
Pretty cool results but lack of guidance and there should be more structure and uniformity to the project


XI.  Please use the space below to write any additional comments about the course, if you wish.

I enjoyed this class very much, and thank you for all your help!
I think it should be emphasized to incoming freshmen interested in engineering that this is an optional class and that they won't be "behind" anyone else in E6 if they do not take it.
Thank you so much for always being so flexible and helpful with us. We know you're very busy with other classes, and it's always such a wonderful surprise when you're so enthusiastic to help us work out our problems. It's also very kind of you to be flexible with duedates because of computer difficulties. This has made for a wonderful class and I wish I were more interested in Math and Physics because I'd love to take more classes with you.
I am definitely an engineering major......I really like the community that the engineering personel fosters
Great introductory class! Just one suggestion--spend a little more time teaching Matlab in the context of how we'll be using it for our projects, since the program is so broad that it's hard to take what we need to know from only knowing how to graph plots/calculate with matrices, etc.
All in all, I think I got what I wanted out of this course, and I will definitely recommend it to others next time it's offered! I do think it'd be nicer if the course were either a full credit, or better yet, a little less work outside of class/lab, but as I said, it was still a great course.
I think it would be nice if you actually graded assignments, as opposed to not really looking at them at all.
I love this course! Wish engineering would be this fun all the time..
Carr is a wonderful teacher and has a lot of information to impart and did a very good job of exploring the world of engineering with the class.


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last updated 8/15/06