June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.187.1 - 14.187.6
An Examination of Engineering Mathematics Courses
There are many alternatives to deliver the mathematics content required for engineering accreditation and career success. These alternatives include four credit hour calculus courses, three credit calculus courses, statistics, differential equations, linear algebra, and multiple other options. This paper examines the literature and an empirical sample of program content to establish a theoretical benchmark for the reasons and potential effectiveness factors related to these options. The goal is to describe and categorize the mathematics requirements of varied programs and provide comparative information as a foundation for further study.
The importance and impact of mathematics in the engineering curriculum has been the subject of many studies which have covered a wide spectrum of topical and curricular impact areas. For example, Ruane1 examined differential equations and its relation to calculus and curricular delivery reform focused on applications. Hampikian2 studied integration of pre-calculus with other engineering courses to improve retention and student success. Carpenter et al.3 studied the mathematical topics which were critical for chemical engineering and James and High4 summarized the literature related to freshman engineering mathematics.
A consistent theme of this literature is the need to improve retention and student success. Two examples typical of work specifically addressing this issue are the following. Monte and Hein5 studied the relationship of supporting engineering courses in improving student success in mathematics. Lavelle and Keltie6 examined intervention approaches in freshman calculus to improve retention of first year students. As demonstrated by these examples, much of the retention related activity is focused at effort outside the mathematics class room.
An important engineering mathematics area which has received limited attention is the study of what goes on inside the class room. More specifically, this includes what topics should be covered and in what depth should they be studied. This is a particularly important question for the engineering graduate who will work in the 21st century. In addition, the authors are involved in the start up of a general engineering program which is focused on building broad interdisciplinary problem solving skills and supporting diverse concentrations in biomedical engineering, bioprocess engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and mechanical engineering. A key question involves the mathematics skills required by a broad-based engineering problem solver who is able to grow and adapt as technology changes. This paper contributes to the literature addressing this question. The next section presents a general foundation by examining a group of mathematics course sequences at a representative number of universities to assess whether curricular practice has identified a consistent viewpoint on general topical coverage.
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015