A hands-on manufacturing curriculum for high school students
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The UTeachEngineering program in the Cockrell School of Engineering of The University of Texas at Austin has developed a high school engineering curriculum, Engineer Your World (EYW), with the intent of interesting students in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. However, EYW currently contains no curriculum modules on manufacturing. In fact, a literature review shows very few high school manufacturing curricula, and these typically require state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, thus making the curricula unaffordable to many schools. Thus, there is a need to develop a new manufacturing curriculum module to provide all schools with the opportunity to teach the breadth of the core concepts of manufacturing without being limited by constraints, such as finance, materials, facilities, etc. This thesis presents the details of such a module. The hands-on approach for teaching manufacturing bridges the gap between theory and practice. Students first learn manufacturing techniques in detail, and then manufacture a simple product using simple setups designed to provide concrete experience with a particular manufacturing process. The hypothesis is that, after completing the module, students’ understanding of manufacturing is increased compared to that before the module. This thesis describes the curriculum and its evaluation. The capstone module of the curriculum features an inexpensive surrogate manufacturing machine that can be assembled quickly by teachers or students to provide hands-on experience. The capstone module of the curriculum was tested with students from an engineering class in a high school in Austin, TX, USA. A pre-test/post test was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum. It was found that the curriculum was simple to understand and implement and also provided insights into manufacturing which are similar to what could be attained with a module using more expensive manufacturing equipment.
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