Asee peer logo

Engaging Multidisciplinary Engineers in an Introduction to Programming Laboratory

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Division Experimentation and Lab-Oriented Studies - Best of DELOS

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ira Hill University of Florida

visit author page

Ira Hill is a faculty member in the Institute for Excellence in Engineering Education at the University of Florida, which focuses on improving large-enrollment, introductory engineering courses. Dr. Hill currently teaches programming for engineers across all majors. His research interests include developing and incorporating engaging demonstrations into the classroom and faculty development. His educational background includes a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He has experience in implementing robotics solutions for biomechanics applications, including a postdoctoral fellowship with the UF Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Engineering students outside of computer science are required to take an introductory course in computer programming in one of several languages (MATLAB, C++,, including a laboratory component. This provides a unique challenge in engaging a group of multidisciplinary students with different programming backgrounds, especially since the lab is required by some engineering majors but optional for others. The lab had essentially turned into a recitation session with additional lecturing and reviews of homework solutions. Over the last several semesters the college has reevaluated how the lab can be useful to all disciplines, and this paper outlines the curriculum redesign to problem-based learning in a collaborative classroom. Students now work in a space designed for active learning for two periods each week, grouped in teams of six. Their goal is to solve programming challenges that range from programming fundamentals to image processing and manipulating experimental data, which stimulates the interest of all engineering disciplines. Example labs include solving programming interview questions, using image kernels to sharpen digital images, and developing a simple Microsoft Paint application. These challenges correspond to the latest lecture material, forcing students to actively work through the current learning objectives and keep pace with the course. Each lab session has the support of a faculty member and teaching assistants to guide discussions and provide just-in-time teaching. Student feedback and grades have shown students are meeting the desired learning objectives while also enjoying the challenging nature of the problems. Students with no prior programming experience have especially benefited from the new lab format with strong improvements in critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills.

Hill, I. (2017, June), Engaging Multidisciplinary Engineers in an Introduction to Programming Laboratory Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28245

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: © 2017 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