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On the Ability to Design Engineering Experiments


"The US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology recently put a new spin on experimentation skills in engineering education. Specifically, outcome 3b of Engineering Criteria 2000 states that engineering graduates must have "an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data". While the ability to conduct experiments, as well as the ability to analyze and interpret data has been addressed by traditional laboratory courses, the ability to design an experiment presents a new challenge for engineering educators and students alike. The paper first discusses inquiry-based learning, which forms the foundation for the design of any experiment. Subsequently, engineering experiments are classified in three broad categories and a general process for experimental design is presented. Finally, the paper presents examples of how this process is used to teach design of engineering experiments in three SJSU courses."