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ASEE-SE Annual Conference 2022

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Adapting Entrepreneurial Mindset Projects For Large Classes

Ill-defined problems encourage students to develop a sense of real engineering, but grading them can be challenging. Rubrics can help, but student calculations are often not checked when they’ve been allowed to create their own inputs for the problem. Engineering Unleashed includes cards for faculty to adapt in their courses to increase student curiosity, to help them make connections between concepts and between their concepts and the real world, and to help them focus on creating value in their life’s work. This project built calculators to solve student work with any acceptable inputs from students and apply rubric scores.

One card for Statics ( asks students to solve a 3D particle equilibrium problem (a balloon making power in Africa) but allows students to set the anchor points for the particle with social and fiscal ramifications. The current project adapted this card for more than 150 teams: students were asked to enter their design into a Google form where coding was developed to check each student’s work and automatically apply the points as determined by a rubric shared with students. A second student submission in Gradescope graded by undergraduate graders using a second rubric included problem setup, free-body diagrams, and reflections about why the students made the decisions they did.

We also developed a new project for students to create a dam to hold back rising seawater. Multiple small homework problems walk the students through understanding when the dam would tip or slip, where the forces act from the water, silt accumulation, and discharge. Ultimately students work with a team to pick one of four shapes, one of three concretes, and dimensions for their dam to hold back the sea. Students are encouraged to think outside the problem to reflect on whether the dam should be oriented with the water & silt on the right or left. Competition between teams will form part of the project grade at the semester’s end.

These two projects allow students in large class sizes to experience two projects of ill-defined problems with teammates. Problems such as this enhance student learning even in Statics and can be done without unduly taxing the grading available. Files and formulae are available upon request and will eventually be added to Engineering Unleashed.

Brett Austin McCandless
NC State University
United States

Anna Howard
NC State University
United States


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