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Enhancing Math and Stat Courses with Surveying Engineering Problems

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2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting


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November 12, 2021

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November 12, 2021

End Date

November 13, 2021

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Daniel Blessner Pennsylvania State University, Wilkes-Barre Campus

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I'm a faculty member at the Penn State Wilkes Barre campus. I'm a civil and chemical engineer.

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Dimitrios Bolkas Pennsylvania State University, Wilkes-Barre Campus Orcid 16x16

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Dimitrios Bolkas, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Surveying Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, Wilkes-Barre Campus. He has a diverse geodetic and geoscientific experience that includes terrestrial, mobile, and airborne laser scanning, digital elevation models, unmanned aerial systems, GNSS networks, geoid and gravity-field modeling. His main research interest is on building methods to increase, understand, and assess the quality/uncertainty in 3D geospatial datasets. His research develops new methods and techniques to enhance functionality of 3D geospatial data and models. In addition, recent research interests include utilizing 3D data for creating realistic environments in immersive virtual reality, as well as the application of virtual reality in engineering education.

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Enhancing Math and Stat Courses with Surveying Engineering Problems This Work In Progress (WIP) paper aims to enhance mathematics and statistics courses taken by engineering students with real life numerical problems and examples. Mathematics and statistics courses instructors often report that students may lack the motivation to study, participate, and engage in their courses. Students often fail to connect Mathematics with real life problems, and they have limited comprehension of how what they learn in class can be applied in real life. The importance of taking a generic math problem and relating it to a real-life problem while in college cannot be over emphasized enough. It is these problems that help you the most in determining which measurements are needed when you reach the actual workforce. When some students enter into an engineering major they lack the mathematics background needed to enter directly into calculus one. This means they must usually take one to two semesters of college algebra and/or trigonometry. It is in these prerequisite courses that students would benefit the most from practical surveying problems. Normally in these courses, students practice routine generic problems. The problem consists of a formula such as the Law of Sines or the general equation for a parabola and a set of numbers are given which are then plugged into a formula and some desired quantity is calculated. The numbers lack units of measurement and the problem lacks any real-life practicality and it reinforces the concept that math is plugging plain numbers into a formula. While this type of problem solving is essential initially to help students become familiarized with a formula, the transition to real-life problems must always follow. To enhance mathematics and statistics courses we aim to enrich instruction and assignments with real life problems from surveying engineering. Surveying engineering is a major with frequent use of trigonometry and statistics problems. Surveyors routinely collect distance and angle measurements to determine coordinates and shapes, and make area and volume calculations. Many of those surveying tasks are related to mapping and boundary determination, concepts that many students are already familiar with. In addition, surveyors collect measurements and use statistics to check accuracy requirements and ensure that their instruments are performing according to manufacturer standards. The introduction of real-life surveying problems into mathematics courses answers the question so many mathematics instructors hear every day, “where am I going to use this”. The WIP paper will discuss the importance of students connecting math with real life problems, provide examples of surveying problems in mathematics and statistics, present the courses that we have identified for integrating surveying content, and planned implementation and dissemination. Furthermore, surveying is a profession with a low public profile and only a few accredited programs exist in the US. Thus, as a secondary objective, engineering students of any major will learn about surveying and be exposed to real surveying problems. This can help students identify themselves as future surveyors and aid in recruitment and enrollment.

Blessner, D., & Bolkas, D. (2021, November), Enhancing Math and Stat Courses with Surveying Engineering Problems Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section.

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