The involvement of undergraduate students in research is very important for engineering education. Research can not only significantly enhance student engagement and enrich student learning experience, but it is also useful as a tool to enhance undergraduate engineering education. However, it is a big challenge for a small teaching institution to do this because most of the faculty don’t have funded research projects, their primary job is teaching a full load. In addition, some frequently raised questions from lectures or labs could be used as research projects for undergraduate students in the teaching institute. Tensile test labs were used for obtaining stress-strain curves in the MECH2500-Mechanics of Materials course to observe material behaviors under tensile load and to obtain some typical mechanical properties of materials, such as Young’s modulus, yield strength, and ultimate strength. Some undergraduate students in mechanical engineering majors frequently asked why the results of the same materials under the same type of equipment and same test procedure were different when they conducted the tensile tests on an Instron universal test machine. In spring 2016, to help the students find answers by themselves, a research project was initiated with heavy student involvement to explore statistical parameters of typical mechanical properties. This team includes 3 faculties from two different departments, one staff from the Strength Test Center and several students. After one-year’s work, 4 sets of test data had been obtained by the student research team and can be used to answer their questions. This paper will describe and present in detail the research activities. In the research, students implemented what they learned in classrooms to the research, designed and manufactured specimens, created test procedures, ran tensile tests, wrote test reports and conducted data analysis. Through the research, students gained hands-on research experience and had a better understanding of the mechanical properties and their statistical descriptions of materials. Some students showed great interest in doing research in future. Through this research, it was shown that some fundamental common questions or topics raised by the students during their courses can be used as undergraduate research projects. Students benefit greatly from such research projects.
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