Tuesday was a busy day for the students. The Core Problem was introduced which is to design a 150 kilowatt, ocean wave powered electric generator. The students were introduced to the engineering design FRAME model. A key step in the engineering design model is the development of an engineering prototype to verify key design assumptions and strategies. At the end of the day students were given their prototype kits and began to familiarize themselves with the prototype and how to make performance measurements. On Wednesday the students will be given a review of Tuesday's concepts prior to starting the task of measuring and recording the electrical performance of the prototype.
Based on the data they collect, the students will take on the task of scaling the performance up to the 150 kilowatt level. The final step is a feasibility analysis of the scaled up design.
Throughout the design process students are introduced to engineering ethics concepts. The most important ethical concept is that engineers are charged with holding the safety, health and welfare of the public paramount.
The final task for the student teams is to prepare a PowerPoint presentation of their design and the improvements they have created.
A point worth making is that the material presented on Tuesday and Wednesday is at the level expected of college engineering freshmen. The students are doing very well indeed, being able to answer difficult questions and pose questions of their own. Even though these are middle school students, they are clearly capable of doing college level engineering work. We should never underestimate the intellectual abilities of students in these critical years of their education. When challenged they will rise to the occasion.