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Enhancing First-year Engineering Students' Trigonometry Learning Experience

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 9: Focus on Student Learning, Lifelong Learning, and the Whole Student

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.659.1 - 26.659.12



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Paper Authors


Liya Ni California Baptist University

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Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gordon & Jill Bourns College of Engineering, California Baptist University,

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Helen Yoonhee Jung P.E. California Baptist University

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Licensed Professional Engineer

University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D. Candidate, Civil Engineering (specialty in Water Resources), June 2009
M.S. Civil Engineering (specialty in Water Resources), June 2005
B.S. Civil Engineering (specialty in Structural), March 2002

Work Experience
California Baptist University
July 2011-Present: Civil Engineering Department Chair
July 2010-June 2011: Civil Engineering Interim Department Chair
August 2009-Present Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering
Topics taught: Chemistry, Statistics, Statics, Mathematics, Environmental Engineering, Leadership Cohort, Internship Prep, FE Review, Fluid Mechanics, Water Resources Engineering, and Hydrology.

University of California, Los Angeles
Mar.2008-June2008 Teaching Fellow
Engineering Ethics
Sept.2007-Mar.2008 Teaching Associate:
Engineering Ethics (2 quarters)
July 2004-June 2007 Teaching Assistant:
Introduction to Water Resources Engineering (2 quarters)
Hydrologic Analysis and Design (2 quarters)
trips, preparation of lab and graded assignments.
July 2004-May 2009 Research Assistant: Investigating the Effects of Wildfire on Southern California Watersheds.

AKM Consulting Engineers
August 2002 – July 2004 Assistant Engineer
-Complete knowledge of GIS, H2ONET, Microstation, HEC-RAS, HEC-HMS
-Projects-Master plan of City of Garden Grove, Master plan of City of Corona, Storm drain design, Pump station design, City of Newport Highway Improvement project, and City of Long Beach water routing design.

Intel Corporation
May 1997  Sept. 1997 Intel’s Honor Internship Program
-Conducted electrical tests on wafers
-Repaired and maintained electrical test devices
-Experienced in clean room environment procedures

Research Interests
My research interest includes hydrologic modeling/ forecasting, water distribution, and water education/curriculum development.

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Ziliang Zhou California Baptist University

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Ziliang Zhou is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at California Baptist University

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Enhancing First Year Engineering Students Trigonometry Learning ExperienceThe College of Engineering at our institute has been part of the NSF sponsored consortium of ANational Model for Engineering Mathematics Education for the last 6 years and saw significantretention improvement in all three majors: Civil, Electric & Computer, and MechanicalEngineering programs. Students of those three majors came from a diversified high school mathtraining background, ranging from AP calculus to basic Algebra. Students with weak mathbackground have one thing in common: they all struggle with trigonometry, a key engineeringskill for success in all three majors. To equip students with necessary trig skills in our firstengineering math course taught by engineering professors, we implemented a three stepapproach during the first three weeks of the class: (1) Made a connection between the classroom trigonometry calculations with the robotic welding operations on the automobile assembly line so that they can actually see how the two-link robot classroom math model in real life applications. This is largely done by showing class the automobile assembly process video followed by math model analysis of the robot arm movement. This approach draws attention from all students, particularly the mechanical inclined students. (2) Added a new NAO robot based trigonometry experiment to provide students hands-on experience of interaction with a humanoid robot. During the experiment, students specify joint angles (or hand location coordinates for inverse kinematics) via a user-friendly computer interface, watch the robot move its arm accordingly, and then hear the robot report verbally the final location coordinates of its hand (or joint angles for inverse kinematics). Students also create MATLAB function and script files to cross-check and validate the measurements. All students loved to play with the NAO robot, especially the electric and computer engineering inclined students. (3) Developed a new surveying experiment to further enhance the trigonometry learning experience. This particular experiment is to understand how trigonometry used in civil engineering and construction management field. The students use two equipment set-ups: Leveling and Theodolite. The students use leveler to measure slopes and use theodolite to measure angles in the horizontal and vertical planes to calculate the building height.Students enthusiastically embraced the new approach with active classroom participation. Thestudent performance data also showed remarkable improvement related to trigonometry skills.Our next step is to expand this approach to the other areas where students showed weakness.

Ni, L., & Jung, H. Y., & Zhou, Z. (2015, June), Enhancing First-year Engineering Students' Trigonometry Learning Experience Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23997

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