This case study observes the effect of design tool use in engineering courses on subsequent uses of design tools. Students gain a familiarity with design tools as they use them in early engineering classes, and will traditionally implement similar methods to seek future design solutions. Problems arise because design tools are often used inappropriately, which may or may not lead to productive outcomes. Understanding how design tools are incorporated into engineering curriculum will reveal how that particular method was selected, the background information given to the student to facilitate tool use, and the benefit gained from using the specific tool in the given case. This information is valuable to the evaluation of the engineering curriculum of which few performance metrics exist. This case study utilizes a design team enrolled in a capstone design course to collect data on the use of design tools throughout their curriculum. Trends are revealed that relate how the tool use is implemented, how the instruction is delivered to the student, and the beneficial application of those to the given design project. These trends directly apply to the intellectual growth of the student as well as the topical coverage and implementation by the engineering department. Using this information, the engineering curriculum can improve its delivery of design instruction. It can be assumed that by improving the curriculum, the quality of the students will follow; yielding engineers who can study better and conduct design projects with intentional precision.

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