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Project Links: Interactive Web Based Modules For Teaching Engineering

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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

5.506.1 - 5.506.8

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Kenneth Manning

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

Session 2620

Project Links: Interactive Web-Based Modules For Teaching Engineering Kenneth S. Manning, Ph. D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Project Links, an NSF-supported project at Rensselaer, is a cooperative effort by faculty from several departments, schools, and institutions to develop materials linking mathematical topics with their applications in engineering and science. The primary product of this effort is a set of interactive, web-based learning modules that rely heavily on hypertext, animations, and interactive Java applets.

We employ interactive web-based modules in the studio classroom environment, pioneered at Rensselaer, to engage students in guided learning. The intent is to provide students with an experience unavailable in traditional lecture or textbook lessons. These modules are designed for use in more than one course, with a topic-qualified instructor and assistant available in the classroom during use. They are not intended as self-paced learning modules, nor as text replacements, but are to supplement existing courses with a degree of interactivity and universality not available before the advent of the World Wide Web.

There are currently 47 modules in development. Three modules and a subgroup of several modules of particular interest to engineering educators are highlighted in this paper. These include Drag Forces, Constrained Optimization, Mass Transport, and the Mechanical Oscillations subgroup.

I. Introduction

Project Links is a five-year, NSF supported undertaking to develop web-based interactive modules that integrate mathematical concepts with contemporary topics in science and engineering. The project is based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with collaboration from the University of Delaware, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Hudson Valley Community College, and Siena College.1

These modules are to be used in a studio setting, with an instructor present, and with student access to the Internet. The modules are topic-specific, intended for use over one to three days in the normal course of the term. They rely very heavily on hypertext construction, animations, interactive Java applets, and students in small group interaction. Most questions and examples are purposely left open-ended to encourage teamwork and self-discovery. The intent is to supplement existing courses, not independent study away from the classroom, though parts of a module may be assigned that way as follow-up.

Manning, K. (2000, June), Project Links: Interactive Web Based Modules For Teaching Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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