In recent years, online learning modules and interactive tools have been developed for integrating synergistic computational and experimental activities into several courses in the mechanical and manufacturing engineering curriculum. These modules may complement existing labs, introduce experiments to lecture-based courses, or help reinforce the understanding of concepts within a course through case studies, computational modeling and its validation through experimental data analysis. Within a given undergraduate course in engineering, the traditional approach is to cover the fundamental concepts and their applications in problem solving and design. However, often some advanced concepts pertinent to the course material cannot be included in great details due to the restrictions on total number of credit/teaching hours. The exposure to such advanced material is considered very important for establishing a broader appreciation of the relevance of the course material and potentially instilling an interest in successive classes and, most importantly, research projects.
The project described in this paper has focused in the development of learning modules which can be used in various courses to introduce advanced topics, analyses and applications related to the fundamental course content. In this paper the development, implementation and assessment of two modules which feature enhanced content is presented. One module has been designed to be used as a tutorial on rotor dynamics and has been embedded in an introductory course on mechanical vibrations. The second is a module being developed for introducing the static and dynamic characterization of viscoelastic polymers. This module will be associated with an advanced mechanics of materials course, as well as the course on vibrations. These two separate concepts/topics are not formally a part of the undergraduate level courses but the underlying concepts can be easily related to the associated course learning outcomes. Such modules can, furthermore, be modified and used with various other courses as assignments and/or as a pre-requisite to a given case study. These modules can also be used for training and support of undergraduate researchers.