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Increasing Student Confidence In Conducting Independent Experiments Using Arduino Technology
At the University of Tennessee at Chattnaooga, all mechanical engineering students are required to take a senior level Experimentation Laboratory which requires students to put into practice much of the knowledge they gained during their undergraduate careers. Four of the eight required labs cover multiple areas of solid mechanics while the remaining four labs focus on the thermal fluid sciences. Until recently the last six weeks of the course consisted of student teams working on small projects aimed at improving experiments conducted in the various engineering labs. As is often the case with group work, the level of competence gained from completing these projects varied greatly among the members of each team. Thus, it was decided by the faculty teaching the course, to increase opportunities of student learning by requiring completion of small projects by individual students rather than student teams. After examining the applications and cost of several Arduino Kits, it was determined that these are excellent for conducting simple, relatively short experiments easily completed by individual students. The desired outcomes for revising the laboratory to include the individual experiences are: 1) to increase student ability to conduct experiments outside of the classroom, and 2) to increase student confidence in conducting an independent project. The information and findings provided in this paper are based on the Experimentation Laboratory of Spring 2021. Both a pre- and post-survey were completed by the students to determine the effectiveness of the course revision.