Enhancements to laboratories and the courses which facilitate their use is important to better preparing students for course work, research experiences, and future contributions in the field of engineering. The thermo-fluids lab course offered by the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering Technology and Architecture (CETA) at the University of Hartford is a 3-credit course that has provided a platform for an increasing number of experiments and writing opportunities. This course is also classified by the University as a writing intensive course, meaning students write a minimum of 15 graded pages and specific course objectives related to writing are included on the syllabus, making it a cornerstone of the students’ education. This study reports on continued enhancements made to the writing intensive nature of the course, including specific instruction on technical writing and writing as a group. This instruction was provided by the primary professors as well as a member of the University Writing Fellows, a dedicated group of faculty who focus on writing instruction across the curriculum. Writing activities include impromptu writing assignments, peer review, outlining and planning exercises. The overall approach to improving students’ skills was: “group-based technical writing development”. Assessment tools include instructor-written observations, student surveys, and in-class analysis of short writing samples by peer evaluation. The course itself, which focuses on experimental methods in fluid mechanics and heat transfer, stresses experimental techniques, results presentation, and technical report writing. Experiences in this course have also provided opportunities for honors work, and research opportunities for undergraduate engineering students.
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