Mechanical Engineering Students' Perceptions of Design Skills Throughout a Senior Design Course Sequence Conference

Perez, VVB, Abreu, AN, Khan, AA et al. (2021). Mechanical Engineering Students' Perceptions of Design Skills Throughout a Senior Design Course Sequence .

cited authors

  • Perez, VVB; Abreu, AN; Khan, AA; Guardia, LE; Hasbún, IM; Strong, AC


  • Engineering design requires high-level, interdisciplinary, collaborative problem-solving skills to successfully solve complex and dynamic challenges. For this reason, engineering design courses have served as a platform for educators to provide students with skills and experiences to face the global challenges they will encounter in their careers. This study examines students' perceptions of and reflections on the skills developed throughout the courses taken throughout their undergraduate engineering curriculum. Students in a senior design sequence were surveyed during each semester of the course about their perceptions of senior design and the skills and previous courses that were most relevant to design. The study was conducted within a large, public, MSI over the course of five semesters of the Mechanical Engineering Senior design sequence. Relationships between particular course groups and the skills students perceived as important for design were found. The results demonstrate that students perceived Engineering Core Courses, Engineering Design Courses, and Engineering Track Core Courses as important in preparing them for senior design. In addition, correlations between the courses mentioned and the skills students considered important for design or were confident in using in design illustrated influential components of the curriculum. Some of these skills included: written communication, programming, hands-on building, teamwork, project management, using machine shop tools, and oral communication. Students' resulting perceptions of which skills are “very important” and which they are “very confident in” design suggest the need to explore alternative assessment methods. Alternatively, these results may illustrate gaps in the existing curriculum around particular skill development and areas where faculty may want to foster students' understanding of and the skills necessary for design. Overall, this study aims to inform researchers and educators about the type of courses that may impact students' skill development and understanding of design to serve as a basis for designing more student-centered engineering curricula.

publication date

  • July 26, 2021