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Probability and Statistics – Early Exposure in the Engineering Curriculum

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2019 FYEE Conference


Penn State University , Pennsylvania

Publication Date

July 28, 2019

Start Date

July 28, 2019

End Date

July 30, 2019

Conference Session

M3B: Learning in Context 2

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Roger J Marino P.E. Drexel University

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Roger Marino is an Associate Teaching Professor in the College of Engineering at Drexel University, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. His home Department is Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Marino has 30+ years of field experience, and is licensed as a Professional Engineer in the State of New Jersey. His primary focus at Drexel is in the Freshman and Sophomore curriculums teaching courses across all disciplines.

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Christopher M Weyant Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Dr. Weyant has been an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University since 2011. Prior to this position, he was an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University. He earned his doctorate from Northwestern University, master's from the University of Virginia and his bachelor's from Pennsylvania State University. In addition to his experience in academia, Dr. Weyant has worked at Honeywell Aerospace, Capstone Turbine Corporation and Sandia National Laboratories.

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Brandon B. Terranova Drexel University

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Dr. Terranova is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Engineering at Drexel University. In his current role, he is the lead instructor for the freshman engineering program, and oversees activities in the Innovation Studio, a large-area academic makerspace. He has taught and developed courses in general engineering and mechanical engineering at Drexel. Prior to Drexel, he has taught and developed courses in physics and mathematics at SUNY Binghamton, University of Delaware, Missouri Online College, and St. Mark’s High School. Dr. Terranova’s research interests include plasmonics, optical tweezing, photonics, electromagnetism, and engineering education. He received his MS in Physics from SUNY Binghamton, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Electrophysics from Drexel University for his work in 3D plasmonic nanostructures.

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Probability and Statistics classes are often introduced in the second year of an Engineering Program. However, the benefits of students being exposed to these subjects during the Freshman Year have been identified. Some of these benefits are: students’ early recognition of the presence and importance of probability and statistics in addressing engineering problems; students’ recognition that statistics and engineering are not in fact two distinct, unrelated entities; and the students’ early exposure will benefit them in subsequent courses in their academic career. Major constraints in exposing students to probability and statistics in their first year are: course-space availability, limited classroom time and the depth at which an instructor can delve into the material. One option for infusing statistics into a First Year course is to integrate the material into a first term “Introduction to Freshman Design” course. In order to achieve this, lecture and recitation sections were added to an existing laboratory-based course to create “Introduction to Engineering Design and Data Analysis.” (resulting in an increase of course credits). Four weeks of the ten-week course focused on probability and statistical concepts. Lectures highlighted relevant statistics topics, and recitations were dedicated to the students working in teams performing exercises that reinforced the lecture material. Instructional assistance was provided in the recitation sections by graduate teaching assistants. During Fall 2018, 800 students were enrolled in the course in which there was one 50-minute lecture and one 50-minute recitation each week. Lectures contained 100-120 students and recitation sections were made up of a maximum of 30 students. Direct assessment of the impact of lecture and recitation activities on learning of statistical concepts was accomplished through homework assignments, grading of the recitation exercises and questions on the final exam. Further insight into student perceptions of the recitation activities was garnered from comments on the course evaluations. Results from the initiative were encouraging and are presented herein.

Marino, R. J., & Weyant, C. M., & Terranova, B. B. (2019, July), Probability and Statistics – Early Exposure in the Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 FYEE Conference , Penn State University , Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--33720

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