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Freshman Calculus In An Integrated Engineering Curriculum

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.223.1 - 1.223.9



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Paper Authors

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Jack Bryant

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Howard Seidel

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David L. Barrow

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Dante DeBlassie

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Arlen Strader

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

Session 2630

Freshman Calculus in an Integrated Engineering Curriculum

David Barrow, Jack Bryant, Dante DeBlassie, Howard Seidel, Arlen Strader Texas A&M University


We are helping to develop, implement, and evaluate an integrated engineering curriculum that emphasizes technology, active learning in the classroom, and teaming. We will describe our experiences teaching calculus, during the past two academic years, to first year students in the integrated curriculum, which also includes courses in engineering, English, physics, and chemistry. This paper will focus on the areas of integration and computers, with primary emphasis on the differences between our course and the traditional freshman calculus course.

First year engineering students typically take introductory engineering, physics, calculus, chemistry and English courses. The students often see the courses as distinct entities. This view is reinforced by the fact that usually none of the faculty members know what the others are specifically doing day to day. Also, the order of presentation of material in a particular course is not influenced by the other courses. For instance, mechanics requires vectors, elementary differentation and integration, and line integrals. In a traditional calculus sequence, vectors and line integrals are introduced in third semester calculus. Although derivatives and integrals are presented in first semester calculus, the students use the ideas in physics well in advance of when they are covered in the calculus.

To remedy this situation, the faculty team met about three times a week during the summer preceeding each school year.1 The purpose was to lay out our respective courses for the whole year. We also met at least once a week during the academic year to keep one another apprised of what and how we were doing. As a result, we radically changed the order of presentation of material in our calculus course, even to the point of moving a large amount of traditional second year engineering mathematics into the freshman year, and postponing some traditional first year material. The guiding philosophy was the belief that a much stronger impression is made in students' minds when they encounter the same or similar ideas, applications, terminology, or notation in two or more courses at approximately the same time, especially if they perceive a "need-to- know" for the material.

In addition to changing the order of presentation of material, we were able to achieve additional integration through two weekly sessions, which we called Calculus Workshops and Maple Labs. These classes, which will be described more fully below, frequently provided superb opportunities for students to see how mathematics relates to the other disciplines.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Bryant, J., & Seidel, H., & Barrow, D. L., & DeBlassie, D., & Strader, A. (1996, June), Freshman Calculus In An Integrated Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6065

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