New Engineering Education Research Program Quite Sporting

Article ID: 521639

Released: 29-Jun-2006 2:35 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Rowan University

Newswise — Shriveled carrots soon may be an engineering teaching tool.

The carrots, along with celery and chickpeas, are being used as subjects for a module called "The Dangers of Overhydration." The module is one of 10 components of "Engineering Principles Through Sports, Sports Equipment and Sports Performance," research being conducted under a $175,000 National Science Foundation grant by engineering and health and exercise science teams at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ; Drexel University, Philadelphia; and Gloucester County College, Sewell, NJ.

"The overall goal of this project is to develop a course on the engineering principles of sports and a series of 10 hands-on laboratory modules that will be implemented in a new engineering and sports course at Rowan and possibly at Drexel, as well as other courses at the three participating institutions," said Dr. Jennifer Kadlowec, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Rowan and principal investigator for the project. "The basis of the project is that the study of sporting equipment, sports performance and sports ethics can be analyzed using multidisciplinary engineering principles."

The shriveled carrots, for example, are part of a hydration study during which researchers are exploring the effects of water, salt water and Gatorade on dehydrated vegetables. "The Dangers of Overhydration" was inspired by the runner who died in the 2002 Boston Marathon from severe overhydration. In overhydration, water flows into cells by osmosis and can lead to swelling and bursting of the cell. This engineering module will focus on engineering topics related to osmosis, including the permeability of vegetable cells.

Other labs will include such topics as:

"¢ "Drag Coefficient of a Golf Ball, With and Without Dimples." "¢ "Why Does a Curve Ball Curve? Does a Good Fastball Rise?" "¢ "Frisbee Aerodynamics with Application to Ultimate Frisbee and Frisbee Golf." "¢ "The Sweet Spot of a Tennis Racket—Is There More Than One?" and"¢ "Materials Testing and Selection in Sporting Equipment."

Rowan is focusing on developing an engineering in sports course and a variety of mechanics and aerodynamics labs, while Drexel is working on aerodynamic labs and Gloucester County College is working on mechanics labs.

"This grant provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to work on engineering assignments that have real-life applications," stated Dr. Susan Smith, Gloucester County College vice-president of Academic Services. "We greatly appreciate the chance to collaborate with the two universities on this project."

"The idea is we will share this information so when each college teaches a subject, the professors can swap experiments," Kadlowec said.

At Rowan, the effort will be used to introduce bioengineering principles to students taking various courses, including a new senior elective in engineering principles in sports. The collaborating colleges also will conduct outreach on their work, making the modules available for K-12 use and incorporating them as part of teacher training and new faculty preparation.


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