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Multimedia Approaches To Teach Engineering To Non Engineers

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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

4.395.1 - 4.395.8

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Paper Authors

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Robert Voigt

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Patricia Warren

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Charles Cameron

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Anne Madsen

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Eric Twite

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

Session 2520

Multimedia Approaches to Teach Engineering to Non Engineers

Robert J. Voigt, Patricia F. Warren, Charles B. Cameron, Anne Madsen, Eric Twite U.S. Naval Academy


This paper addresses some of the challenges of teaching electrical engineering to humanities majors in a demanding academic environment. We focus on the use of multimedia tools in the classroom in order to “engage the students.” The challenges we face in teaching this type of course to non-engineering students are many and varied. The circumstances are such that the students are enrolled in the course as a core requirement, thus, while they are motivated to pass, they may not be motivated to excel. Students may not have a strong math or physics background to rely upon; therefore, we are restricted from using higher mathematics to convey electrical engineering principles more precisely described by such methods. In this institution, we are faced with an intense demand for the student’s time in academic, athletic and military obligations. This is not unlike any collegiate environment where there are time demands on students beyond the control of the teachers. A common example is part-time or full-time students who must hold jobs to pay for their education. Thus, we must convey as much information as the students can comprehend while realizing that the load for this course represents only a small portion of the demand for their time. Efficiency in the classroom is essential. Relying on multimedia presentation, both in and out of the classroom, is appropriate for reaching students who appear largely to be visual learners. Doing so makes the material interesting and understandable to this audience. In this paper, we focus on a subset of ideas and methods we have used and we try to quantify their results. We illustrate the importance of cooperative and collaborative learning in this environment and show how we have approached the problem. We also will describe some of the tools we have developed which can be applied across disciplines other than engineering and can provide these tools to interested parties via a Web-based server.

I. Background

The goal of the Naval Academy is to prepare an individual, militarily, academically and morally, so that they will have an effective foundation with which to execute their duty and lead the servicemen and women entrusted to them. Because the Navy and Marine Corps of today is technologically pervasive, all students are required, regardless of their major, to take courses which expose them to the engineering disciplines that they will ultimately encounter during their service in the fleet. This requires students to take courses in electrical, mechanical and systems engineering. For any educator, this would present a unique professional challenge as approximately 40% of a graduating class are not engineering, math or science majors; they none- the-less must exhibit a mastery of these subjects in order to graduate. The abilities and affinities of these midshipmen lie in the realm of humanities and social science; they do not have the rigorous math background required for a typical engineering approach to technical subjects. In

Voigt, R., & Warren, P., & Cameron, C., & Madsen, A., & Twite, E. (1999, June), Multimedia Approaches To Teach Engineering To Non Engineers Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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