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How To Get Engineers To Enroll In Mathematics Courses

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Improving the Mathematical Preparation of Students

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.699.1 - 11.699.7



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Elton Graves Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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

How to get Engineers to take Mathematics Courses Abstract

One of the challenges to any mathematics department is how to recruit non-majors to take upper level mathematics courses. While several engineering curricula require some upper level mathematics courses, most engineering students only take the bare minimum to meet graduation requirements.

In this paper the author will discuss some three simple methods which have been employed to encouraged students to take upper level mathematics courses. These methods include creating courses of interest to the student, advertising the courses, and encouraging students with A.P. credit to take more mathematics courses. Both individual and department wide examples will be discussed. The results have been very encouraging and in some courses the enrollment has more than doubled and extra sections of the course have had to be added.


One of the challenges to any mathematics department is how to recruit non-majors to take upper level mathematics courses. At Rose-Hulman we have incorporated three methods that seem to have promising results. These include creating courses or tracts which interest engineering majors; advertising courses that are being offered, and specifically encouraging students who enter school with advanced placement credits in mathematics to take additional mathematics courses beyond the courses required for their major.

Creating courses and tracts of interest

Over the past few years the Rose-Hulman Mathematics Department has made several changes to encourage students to take upper level mathematics courses. One of the major changes was to change the courses required to get a degree in mathematics. Until the late 1900’s Rose had only one tract for a degree or major in mathematics. We have now split this into four different tracts. Our first tract is for the traditional mathematics major who wants to go to graduate school and earn and masters degree or doctorate in mathematics. This tract is not a tract that would interest most engineering students.

Our second tract is a discrete applied mathematics tract which requires students to take our discrete and combinatorial algebra courses. This tract was specifically designed to encourage computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and software engineering students to consider a second major in mathematics or at least a minor in mathematics with a concentration in our discrete applied courses. The computer science/mathematics double major has traditionally been the Mathematics Department’s most popular program. By adding this separate mathematics tract we have only enhanced and already popular program.

Graves, E. (2006, June), How To Get Engineers To Enroll In Mathematics Courses Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--425

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