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Initial Development Of A Needs Driven Course On Calculation Methods And Problem Solving For Engineering Technology Students

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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

Interdisciplinary Education in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.764.1 - 11.764.9



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Paper Authors


John Blake Austin Peay State University

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JOHN W. BLAKE is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. He served as the chair of the department from 1994 to 2005. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee.

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

Initial Development of a Needs-Driven Course on Calculation Methods and Problem Solving for Engineering Technology Students Abstract

As part of a major curriculum overhaul, our department added a course – ENGT 3050 Problem Solving in Engineering Technology – which was designed to cover skills that we felt students needed to have before leaving our program and that they were not getting from other courses. Most of our curriculum is structured around standard course topics and texts. This course was a departure from that model. In selecting the content for the course, we focused on topics that were not clearly being covered in other required courses and that students needed to know before reaching the workplace. This paper will discuss the author’s experience in the initial development and offering of this course.

In its current form, much of the content is based on using math and computer software in the process of solving problems. Based on our current degree requirements, the course content includes topics on graphing and presenting data, data reduction, and basic topics from statistics. Our curriculum overhaul included removal of engineering-level calculus requirements. With this change, some needed material was cut, and the new course covers this to some degree. Overall, the course serves in part as a capstone to our math requirements, with a focus on how to apply the math studied in applications.

As envisioned, the course also includes a balance of material on creative problem solving. In practice to date, the course is too heavy on math content, especially in the area of calculus. This has occurred because we are finding that the students have not learned how to use the material studied in the required calculus course. Experience with this course is giving us information on what our students are not learning to use from their math courses, and gives us guidance on how to change the way we teach math skills to our students. With improvement in that area, we can focus more on the broader aspects of solving problems in the workplace.


Our department was moved from the main campus to a satellite campus. For several reasons, including differences in term length and student populations, we could not expect some of the courses we had required on the main campus to be offered successfully at the satellite location. We had to change our requirements to adapt to the new site. The changes included a reduction in calculus requirements (from ten to three credit hours) and elimination of a computer lab where we had introduced students to the EXCEL spreadsheet and other software.

Some of the changes and cuts reflected a need to better align our requirements with engineering technology, rather than engineering, requirements. However, the changes did cut some material we deemed valuable to our students. We added a new course, ENGT 3050 Problem Solving in Engineering Technology, where we would have a chance to cover this material. This is designed as a third year course, and the required math department course sequence is a prerequisite. The

Blake, J. (2006, June), Initial Development Of A Needs Driven Course On Calculation Methods And Problem Solving For Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1134

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