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Impec: An Integrated First Year 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

1.243.1 - 1.243.5



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Paper Authors

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Richard M. Felder

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Philip R. Dail

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Leonhard E. Bernold

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John E. Gastineau

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Ernest E. Burniston

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

Session 2230


Richard M. Felder, Leonhard E. Bernold, Ernest E. Burniston, Philip R. Dail, John E. Gastineau North Carolina State University


Traditional engineering curricula are highly compartmentalized. Fundamental mathematics and science courses and engineering courses are generally self-contained, with few connections being made to related courses in other disciplines or even the same discipline. Real engineering problems, on the other hand, invariably involve information and skills associated with a variety of engineering, mathematics, and physical science courses. When students do not understand the interrelations between different subjects, they tend to be less motivated to learn new subject matter and consequently less able to solve realistic problems.

Recognizing this problem, several universities have recently developed first-year engineering curricula that include multidisciplinary integration. This paper reports on one such effort currently under way at North Carolina State University sponsored by the National Science Foundation SUCCEED Coalition. In the new curriculum, designated as IMPEC (Integrated Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry), elements of engineering design and operations are brought into the first year and integrated with introductory calculus and science courses. The goals of the curriculum are to provide (1) motivation and context for the fundamental material taught in the first-year mathematics and science courses; (2) a realistic and positive orientation to the engineering profession, and (3) training in the problem-solving, study, and communication skills that correlate with success in engineering school and equip individuals to be lifelong learners.

Curriculum Structure and Instructional Approach

In the fall semester of 1994, IMPEC students took the first courses in calculus and physics (mechanics) as well as a one-credit engineering course. In the spring of 1995, students continuing in the sequence took the second courses in calculus and physics (electricity and magnetism) and a second one- credit engineering course. This sequence of science and mathematics courses did not parallel the one taken by most engineering freshmen and created serious scheduling problems for some of the IMPEC students. The 1995–1996 sequence parallels the one followed by most engineering freshmen: general chemistry, calculus, and engineering courses in the fall and physics (mechanics), calculus, and engineering courses in the spring. The one-credit fall engineering course replaces the standard zero-credit freshman orientation course, and the one-credit spring engineering course is an add-on to the standard curriculum.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Felder, R. M., & Dail, P. R., & Bernold, L. E., & Gastineau, J. E., & Burniston, E. E. (1996, June), Impec: An Integrated First Year Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6095

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