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Two members of ONU engineering faculty recognized by ASEE for 2007 Freshman Programs Division Best Paper

Aug 15, 2007

Dr. John Estell and Dr. John-David Yoder, professors from Ohio Northern University’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering, were recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) as recipients of the 2007 Freshman Programs Division Best Paper Award.

    Estell, professor of computer engineering and computer science, and Yoder, associate professor of mechanical engineering, collaborated to assess the merits of an exercise for freshmen engineering students. Drs. Beverly Jaeger, Richard Whalen and Susan Freeman from Northeastern University worked with Estell and Yoder on the joint development.

The resulting paper titled “Tower of Straws: Reaching New Heights with Active Learning in Engineering Design for the First-Year Curriculum” was presented at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition held in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 24-27.

    Submitted manuscripts are nominated for “Best Paper” status during the conference’s review process and later competitively evaluated. The award winner was announced at the Freshman Programs Division business meeting on June 26.

    Estell and Yoder’s paper focuses on the Tower of Straws exercise used in Freshman Engineering 1 (GE 104). Students are instructed to build a structure as tall as possible from a fixed number of straws and fasteners, given a limited amount of time. The completed tower must be freestanding, at least 7 inches tall, and be able to support a golf or tennis ball for 30 seconds. Teams of students design and analyze possible solutions before testing the towers against specific constraints and criteria.

    The purpose of the joint research with Northeastern was to examine the different methodologies successfully used at the two institutions. Their research showed that students from both universities benefit from the Tower of Straws project because it serves as an early introduction to the engineering design process.

Founded in 1893, the ASEE is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology.