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Physics: Implications For Computer Technology

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.492.1 - 5.492.10



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Paper Authors

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Geoff Swan

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S P Maj

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D Veal

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

Session 3280

Physics: Implications for Computer Technology

D Veal, S P Maj and G I Swan Computer Science / Computer Science / Physics Program Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. Abstract

Investigations of job advertisements in regional newspapers revealed a high level of demand for Computer and Network Support (CNS) positions. An in-depth analysis of employer expectations within the CNS field provided a checklist of knowledge requirements and skills. A subsequent analysis of 3rd year computer science students, both at Edith Cowan University (ECU) and internationally, revealed that they did not possess these necessary background skills – there was a mismatch between demand and supply. As a result two new first year single semester units, Computer Installation & Maintenance (CIM) and Network Installation & Management (NIM), were designed and implemented at ECU. Both CIM and NIM are regularly oversubscribed, attract students from a wide range of disciplines and also cross-institutional enrolments from other universities within Western Australia. Significantly these new units have a substantial ‘hands on’ component consisting of a weekly workshop and associated lecture, both of 2 hours duration.

Both units assume some knowledge of physics including basic electric circuits. A questionnaire based upon basic electric circuits was administered to CIM students in 1998 and the results clearly demonstrated that most students lacked sufficient physics in this area to fully support their learning. Given that students must work in a potentially hazardous environment, a knowledge of physics is also essential in understanding the principles behind Health & Safety. Furthermore, some students experienced difficulties with respect to formula derivation, manipulation and substitution. The importance of a basic knowledge of physics, particularly as a foundation for understanding technology and its curriculum implications are discussed. Possible solutions to students’ problems with basic physics are presented.

1. Introduction

According to the 1991 ACM/IEEE-CS report: “The outcome expected for students should drive the curriculum planning” 1. The computing science department at ECU conducted an exploratory market audit covering a wide range of companies offering employment in the area of computer and network support (CNS) within Western Australia. This took the form of a survey intended to ascertain the level and extent of the CNS related skills that prospective CNS

Swan, G., & Maj, S. P., & Veal, D. (2000, June), Physics: Implications For Computer Technology Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8626

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