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Learning with toys brings Fortune 500

by: MUN

A toy developed for a graduate engineering course dealing with the design, conduct and analysis of engineering and computer experiments is gaining traction on a global scale – being used by several Fortune 500 companies including Cummins, John Deere, Eastman Chemicals and major corporations such as Bell Canada, Sanofi-Pasteur, Pratt-Whitney, and many others.

Dr. Leonard Lye, associate dean of graduate studies, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, developed the DOE (Design of Experiment)-Golfer. The DOE-Golfer is a wooden toy designed similar to a golf putter. The toy demonstrates several factors that cause the ball to travel various distances.

“The toy can consider up to five or six factors, for example brand of ball, length of club, weight of club, angle of swing, type of greens (carpet), direction and more,” said Dr. Lye. 

He explained that the key benefit of using a physical toy such as the DOE-Golfer is that the students get to use it to collect data after their experimental design, analyze the data and then apply their results in a competitive team golf tournament for bonus marks.

“This has been a very effective teaching aid. I normally have upwards of 30 students in the course each fall, and in addition to the benefits of enhancing the learning experience, students have a lot of fun with the device – as do I,” said Dr. Lye with a smile.

Ms. Justine Dagenais, a first-year ocean and naval architectural engineering graduate student, agrees that the apparatus is an ideal way to learn about design of experiment.

“It combines learning and playing all in one,” she said. “And it helps with the process of learning how to prepare and execute an experiment, as well as how to analyze the data acquired after the fact.”

Dr. Lye has taught the course for the last 15 years not only in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, but also as professional development courses to the public, and to scientists and engineers at the National Research Council. He was the winner of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2003.

The course will be offered at an undergraduate level, hopefully as soon as the winter 2013 semester.

For more information, please visit www.footworker.ca.

For more stories of inspirational teaching and learning experiences, please visit Memorial’s teaching and learning blog, at teachingandlearning.mun.ca.

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