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Innovative Approach To Teaching And Learning Undergraduate Physics For Engineering Using Ees

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

A Potpourri of Innovations in Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.709.1 - 8.709.19



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Paper Authors

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Guido Lopez

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

Session 3580

Innovative Approach to Teaching and Learning Introductory Undergraduate Physics for Engineering using EES.

Guido W. Lopez Northeastern University Boston, MA


Physics is a foundation subject of several engineering disciplines, such as, mechanical, electrical, electronic, chemical, aeronautical, aerospace, automotive, nuclear, etc. As such, the learning of physics by engineering students requires a suitable level of cognitive skill to think conceptually and project the technological initiatives that can be found behind its principles. In effect, a good grasp of the concepts of science inherent to a particular engineering discipline provides a reliable and firm scaffold to engineering students for the practice of their profession. Quite often, however, the teaching of undergraduate physics in engineering programs emphasizes manipulation of formulas and numerical computation instead of deep understanding of inherent concepts. This “cookbook” approach seriously affects the strength of the scientific foundation that physics courses need to provide to engineering students. The use of computer software in the classroom helps to minimize this problem substantially. In effect, much of the tedious manipulative and computational burden that are typical of in-class, exam, or take-home problems in physics, can now be effectively and quickly executed by computer software. This approach frees time for instructors to emphasize concepts instead of procedures and helps students to master the underlying science of their engineering disciplines with greater confidence and efficacy. This paper presents a comparative study between a traditional approach to teaching engineering physics, and an innovative approach that uses the computer software EES (acronym for Engineering Equation Solver), to convey concepts and principles of physics by minimizing mathematical manipulation and computational burden associated with the practice of problem- solving. This new approach and examples presented here have been used and tested on the instruction of engineering students taking introductory physics at Northeastern University. Preliminary evaluation of their performance suggest that the computational power of the computer software EES greatly helps engineering students to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles taught in introductory undergraduate physics.


Science and technology are different from each other on their purposes. Nevertheless, the foundation of present technology can only be found in the landmark ideas, the logic and the predictive power of science. Engineering is the discipline that prepares professionals to support and advance technology. Engineering uses the findings of science to provide solutions to human

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Lopez, G. (2003, June), Innovative Approach To Teaching And Learning Undergraduate Physics For Engineering Using Ees Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11949

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