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Incorporating Engineering Applications Into Calculus Instruction

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.304.1 - 4.304.11

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Paper Authors

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Milin Shah

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Guoqing Tang

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Bala Ram

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

Session 3565

Incorporating Engineering Applications into Calculus Instruction1 Guoqing Tang*, Bala Ram**, and Milin Shah** *Department of Mathematics **Department of Industrial Engineering North Carolina A&T State University Greensboro, NC 27411,,

1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to present two multimedia modules in the areas of differential calculus, industrial engineering and industrial management as well as preliminary results on incorporating one of the modules in calculus instruction. These two modules are developed through a collaboration between the mathematics and industrial engineering departments at North Carolina A&T State University under the NSF funded project “Enhancing Mathematics Courses through Engineering Applications.”

The first module addresses cost curves and optimization analysis related to the car replacement problem and inventory control problem, and is incorporated in Calculus I instruction. The car replacement problem discusses how long to retain a vehicle of your choice before trading in or selling it for a new one, while the inventory control problem is to make a decision on how a retailer determines economically the quantity of a product ordered from a distributor or manufacturer. Various cost components are introduced, and the total cost is then formed. The objective is to minimize the total cost. Both application problems can be solved by differential calculus. The second module studies the problem of location of facilities in a geographical area, and is to be incorporated in Calculus III instruction. The objective of the problem is to reduce the total transportation cost. When the distance measure used is Euclidean distance, finding a solution to the problem involves evaluating partial derivatives and solving a set of equations. We have recently solved a real problem in location for a company and have data to provide realism to the exercise.

Through these applications, students will have increased awareness of the importance of calculus they study and hence will have a stronger motivation to understand the materials. Faculty will also benefit in having easy access to up-to-date applications of the topics covered in calculus that are not provided in current textbooks.

1 This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under the Grant DUE-9752266

Shah, M., & Tang, G., & Ram, B. (1999, June), Incorporating Engineering Applications Into Calculus Instruction Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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