Historically, the teaching of design theory in an engineering curriculum has been relegated to a senior capstone design experience. Presently, however, engineering design concepts and courses can be found through the entirety of most engineering programs. Educators have recognized that engineering design provides a foundational platform that can be used to develop educational strategies for a wide array of engineering science principles. More recently, educators have found that product archaeology provides an effective platform to develop scalable learning materials, strategies, and educational innovations across these design courses. This paper presents and discusses how product archaeology has been incorporated at a large research university in two design-related courses for mechanical engineering students: (1) a sophomore-level course and (2) a senior-level class. More specifically, details are reported regarding how and how easily global, societal, economic, and environmental factors were emphasized in the curricula of these courses. Next, the paper shares the qualitative and quantitative assessment tools and methods used to determine the impact of incorporating a product archaeology paradigm in the courses. Finally, the results are reported which demonstrate a significant increase in the students’ perceptions across a number of skill and knowledge areas related to ABET-required Outcome h without negatively impacting other important academic areas. Results demonstrate a significant increase in student perception across a number of skill and knowledge areas critical to the next generation of engineers.
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