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Embedding Mathematics in Engineering Design Projects

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 3

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Paper Authors


Larry G. Richards University of Virginia

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Larry G Richards is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. He leads the Virginia Middle School Engineering Education Initiative, and is active in K 12 outreach and professional development activities locally and nationally. Larry’s research interests include creativity, entrepreneurship, engineering design, innovation, and K-12 engineering education. He is a founding member of the K-12 Division and is a Fellow of ASEE.

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Susan K. Donohue University of Virginia

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Susan Donohue is a lecturer in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. Her engineering education interests include the teaching of design, creativity and curiosity; engineering misconceptions and remediation; K-12 outreach; spatial skills development; and STEAMd integration in K-20 engineering education.

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For many years, students and faculty at the University of Virginia have been developing materials to teach pre-college students about engineering. These materials, Engineering Teaching Kits (ETKs), introduce and reinforce concepts from mathematics and science in the context of engineering design challenges. Age-appropriate mathematics are embedded in all of our ETKs, but we do not explicitly teach it. Rather, we use inductive learning principles via project-based learning challenges that lead students through exercises involving experimentation and measurement; data collection, analysis, and display; estimation and prediction; and budgeting and making trade-offs. For example, data representation and computation are essential skills for engineering problem solving. In working through the challenges, students gain practice and comfort in applying the mathematics, logic, and problem solving skills needed to solve engineering design problems. We provide examples of how mathematics are embedded in ETKs after providing an introduction to the kits.

Richards, L. G., & Donohue, S. K. (2016, June), Embedding Mathematics in Engineering Design Projects Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26932

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