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Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Online Computer Course for Engineering Problem Solving

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Flipped, Blended, Online, Oh My

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Cora Martinez Florida International University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Cora Martinez-Franklin is a Mechanical Engineer from Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela, with a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from Florida International University. She has an extensive experience in the development of numerical models in Finite Element and Finite Difference Methods, and their application in engineering problems, including fluids, geotechnical, and structural problems. She is a CEE faculty member since January 2010 and she was also member of the faculty of Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela, for fifteen years.

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Lili Steiner Florida International University

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I design and implement education solutions that are efficient, effective, and scalable. Specifically, I focus on the development of meaningful learning innovation from discovery and design through production and deployment.
My research and experience have shown that a full-cycle approach is the most effective way to deliver value. Because of this, I work on full-cycle, full-scale projects. Conceptually, this means that I’m involved in every phase rather than just research and design: I deliver fully functional, sustainable systems.
The way I achieve this is by taking an approach that is methodologically flexible and people-focused. Education innovation is as much about the solution as it is about managing change. So no matter how cutting-edge technology, my process incorporates strategic planning, instructional design best practices, and stakeholder involvement. I’m deliberate about tapping into community know-how and creating collaborative optimal solutions that take into account the often-intangible but always-essential human element.
I have a bachelor degree in Computer Science Engineering from the Universidad Simón Bolívar. Caracas - Venezuela. After several years working in the field of K-12 Informational Technologies in Education, I competed a M.Sc program in Instructional Technologies and Distance Education at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, US. Five years later I started to work in higher education, and completed a doctoral degree in Instructional Design and Technology (Ed.D) at Nova Southeastern University in 2017.
If you want to learn more about my work, go to

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The main objectives of this study are the design, implementation, and evaluation of the online course Computer Tools in Engineering –CGN2420– for the Civil and Environmental Engineering programs at Florida International University. Computer Tools in Engineering is a 3-credit hour mandatory course required for several upper level engineering classes and labs. The pre-requisites for this course are Calculus II and Physics I, thus the student population consists of mostly sophomore and junior students. The course introduces the use of two computer software commonly used in the context of the engineering profession, Excel and Mathcad. The goal of this course is to learn the use of numerical techniques to obtain exact or approximated solutions for different engineering problems. Topics covered include linear algebra, curve fitting, statistical methods, solution of nonlinear equations, optimization, numerical integration, numerical differentiation, and programming. Due to limited physical space and hopes of expanding learning opportunities for working students, a fully online section was developed to run concurrently with the traditional face-to-face course; opening both sections every fall and spring semester. As a bi-product, the online version now gives students the opportunity to take this course in the 12-week summer term, which was previously unavailable live. Lectures for online students were recorded in a specialized studio at the FIU online department, using Camtasia, a software for creating video presentations directly via screencast. Video lectures consist of solution procedures for engineering problems, with the instructor’s guidance, using either Excel or Mathcad software. When the lecture is over, students submit their work for review and grading. The course was first implemented and posted on Blackboard, FIU's learning management system in 2016. In Summer 2018, the course was migrated to Canvas, FIU's official Learning Management System (LMS) since then. A study of student performance and Student Perceptions of Teaching Survey (SPOTs) was conducted over a three year period, Fall 2016 through Summer 2019, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the new teaching delivery system. Data comparing online and face-to-face student grades suggests that the teaching strategy does not affect student performance. In addition, the online delivery system is better appreciated than the face-to-face one, online students value pace control and location flexibility, and express satisfaction about video lectures and learning contents. On the other hand, online students demand rapid feedback about performance, and availability of TA’s and/or instructor to assist them. Besides aiding working students, an unexpected conclusion of this study is that the online delivery system seems to be an alternative that facilitates the learning process for students with limited technical background or dominance of the English language.

Martinez, C., & Steiner, L. (2020, June), Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Online Computer Course for Engineering Problem Solving Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34400

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