Charlotte, North Carolina
June 20, 1999
June 20, 1999
June 23, 1999
4.377.1 - 4.377.11
Mathematical Support for an Integrated Engineering Curriculum Bernd S. W. Schroeder1, Jenna P. Carpenter Louisiana Tech University
Background, Goals, and Objectives. Seeking improvements over the curriculum currently in place, during the academic year 1996-97, faculty from several engineering programs and the programs of mathematics, physics, and chemistry at Louisiana Tech evaluated the integrated engineering curricula at several universities with the goal to implement a similar program at Louisiana Tech University. Upon this review it was decided to pilot an integrated engineering curriculum at Louisiana Tech University. For papers that describe experiences with integrated engineering programs cf. [Aetal], [BF], [Cetal], [FR], [Mor], and [RPC] (freshman year); [GRGG], [HM], and [RR] (sophomore year); and [CEFF] and [MW] (managing the transition to a new curriculum).
The goal was and is to build an integrated engineering curriculum that produces engineers who can function, succeed, and provide leadership in today’s rapidly evolving engineering workplace. This goal is to be achieved with the same type of students who currently enter Louisiana Tech. In mathematics this means that about 5% of the students are ready for calculus, another 55% are ready for precalculus and the remaining 40% start below precalculus. The decision was made to pilot a curriculum with students that are ready for precalculus. The curriculum was to expose students to engineering from the start of and in every term during their college careers. Concurrent classes were to support each other. Intended consequences of better preparation and a streamlined curriculum are higher success and retention rates, higher quality graduates as well as shorter times to graduation.
Designing this integrated engineering curriculum is a major undertaking with many features. In this paper we will focus on two of our objectives, namely
1) The introduction of key theoretical concepts “in context”, and 2) The elimination of unnecessary duplication in the curriculum.
Other features will (hopefully) be described elsewhere. We will describe how mathematical content can be re-ordered to make the necessary mathematical tools available to the students before they are needed in other engineering and science classes. The benefits to be derived from small content realignments as described here are less duplication of content in the curriculum and better student understanding of the mathematical as well as the engineering and science content. Indeed, the mathematics will be well motivated through engineering and science courses and the engineering and science courses can focus on their subject rather than ad hoc presentations of mathematics. Many of the arguments on content realignment given here are valid not only for integrated curricula, but for engineering curricula in general. We
1 The first author was supported by a Fellow of Excellence in Engineering Education grant by the Louisiana Board of Regents (Faculty Incentives and Rewards – Undergraduate Project program).
Schroeder, B. S. W., & Carpenter, J. (1999, June), Mathematical Support For An Integrated Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. https://peer.asee.org/7827
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