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Designing A Sustainable And Dynamic Problem Solving Class For

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.418.1 - 10.418.5



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Paper Authors

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Edward Jackson

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Mani Mina

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Designing a sustainable and dynamic problem-solving class for first-year engineering students

Edward A. Jackson and Mani Mina Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University

Abstract As the fields of engineering expand and introductory courses become more compressed, it has become a greater challenge to structure first-year classes to prepare students adequately both for the remainder of their formal education and for the workplace. We review the objectives of first- year classes and some of the traditional methods used in teaching them. We also introduce our attempts in the last few years at developing a sustainable and dynamic first-year electrical engineering class at Iowa State University. Discussion of classroom, laboratory, and out-of-class learning is included, along with some of our results.

Introduction The increasingly rapid growth of the various fields of engineering has led to great challenges in education, and many proposals have been made regarding changes in curriculum1-3. The needs of first-year university students have especially changed; quickly changing and evolving technology demands more than ever that students continue to learn efficiently throughout their professional career. To this end, a first year course must provide the student with a number of objectives:

• Identify the scope of the particular field which he or she has chosen to study; • Begin to learn the process of problem solving, recognizing that each problem is unique and that a single, rigid solution process cannot be universally applied; • Identify personal methods of learning and how to objectively assess one’s own understanding of a problem or subject; • Dispel the myth that spending more time on a problem will automatically produce better results, and instead learn to spend time more productively; and • Learn some basic principles needed in engineering, identifying what is fundamental and what is derived. There are very few basics. The subject matter we cover in our first-year class at Iowa State University does not differ greatly from that taught at many other institutions; it includes some mathematical basics (review of trigonometry, very basic vector and matrix operations, brief introduction to complex numbers) as well as laboratory work in programming and computer-assisted mathematics. An emphasis on the learning process and the formation of student communities, however, makes the class unique.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Jackson, E., & Mina, M. (2005, June), Designing A Sustainable And Dynamic Problem Solving Class For Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14957

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