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Interdisciplinary Mathematics For Environmental Engineers

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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

1.278.1 - 1.278.4

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Richard J. Jardine

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

Session 2265

Interdisciplinary Mathematics for Environmental Engineers

Richard J. Jardine United States Military Academy


Cooperation between the Department of Geography& Environmental Engineering and the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point has led to the development of an elective course taught by the latter department tailored to the needs of the former. Unlike the situation at many research universities, where engineering departments develop math courses within their own programs, the encouragement of interdisciplinary activities at West Point has created a collegiality that enhances the overall undergraduate engineering education. The course MA366, Vector Calculus and Introduction to Partial Differential Equations, completes the mathematical foundation which supports subsequent study of environmental engineering. This paper addresses the development and implementation of the course, which accentuates hydrogeologic applications. Emphasis in this paper is placed on the cooperative efforts of the departments involved and course activities. Suggestions for further course improvements are included.


Far too often, undergraduates look on their courses as individual hurdles that must be cleared on the way to graduation. It is preferable that students view their work over four years as a continuum. Intentional activities are necessary to prevent discretization of the learning process. Engineering students in the traditional curriculum understand that mathematics courses are prerequisites, but often fail to make the appropriate connection between the calculus and subsequent engineering courses. A connected undergraduate engineering curriculum which uses interdisciplinary applications to bind courses and departments together can make the undergraduate engineering education a continuous and more efficient process. This view is a distinct contrast to the discrete set of sometimes disjoint or redundant courses offered at many universities.

This paper describes an interdisciplinary effort involving an engineering department and the mathematics department at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. What makes this activity special is the cooperation between departments in the development of the mathematics course, a situation which is in contrast to the more common practice of engineering departments developing their own mathematics courses. The focus of the interdisciplinary effort described here is on the development of the content of the mathematics course and the use of a project to tie the two courses together. In addition to addressing those two subjects, this paper discusses further steps across the bridge transcending traditional course and departmental boundaries. The cooperative efforts presented prevent inefficient replication of course

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Jardine, R. J. (1996, June), Interdisciplinary Mathematics For Environmental Engineers Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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