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Motivating mechanical engineering students to learn fluid power concept: A positive impact of simulation software
CONTEXT: School of Engineering and Technology (SET) of Central Queensland University (CQU) focuses on continuous development and innovation of best learning and teaching practices to increase student retention and improve their learning experiences. Our face to face and distance learning and teaching delivery models are fundamental aspects for providing quality support to the students’ learning. For example, the Master of Engineering courses are being offered in three different locations of Rockhampton, Melbourne, and Perth campuses where the students have face to face learning experiences. Recent studies found that constructive feedback of the assessment items is the key to promote early detection of student shortcomings and the areas requiring assistance for student learning. In addition, another incredibly important aspect of students’ learning is the selection of relevant industry-related projects and applications of relevant simulation software to mimic the systems. PURPOSE OR GOAL: The goal of this paper is to develop essential problem-solving skills and control strategies of fluid power systems for mechanical engineering students under the Masters of Engineering programs by employing Simulink, SimScape Fluid applications in Matlab software and Energy Plus with Design Builder. The main focus is to ensure that the students achieve the required skills of building the fluid circuit models based on physical connections that directly integrate with appropriate symbols and modelling paradigms in fluid power applications. APPROACH OR METHODOLOGY/METHODS: The focus of this study is based on student learning on fluid power applications and control by introducing Matlab based simulation codes Simulink, SimScape and SimScape Fluid to model the appropriate physical models to mimic the industrial fluid power projects selected. The basic ideas and content are to be delivered through weekly lectures and tutorial sessions, and the students’ skill on fluid power systems and software are developed and monitored through weekly workshops scheduled for all projects. Finally, the students’ presentations of the project outcomes obtained using the software along with the physical meanings of the results are evaluated by the academic experts. ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES: The key outcomes of this study are the level of understanding of fluid power systems, development of simulation skills of using the software indicated, interpretation of the results the students have obtained and validations of those results. The students must show they have developed appropriate problem solving, professional presentation and effective team-building skills. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY: As the students develop appropriate problem solving and engineering practice skills, their satisfaction and feedback rates improve significantly.