Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.895.1 - 6.895.12
Multi Media Session: Paper 2171
Strategies for Teaching Computer Skills to First-Year Engineering Students Larry G. Richards University of Virginia
What computer skills should freshman Engineering students master? How should they learn these skills? At the University of Virginia, a first year Introduction to Engineering course emphasizes spreadsheets (Excel), Computer Aided Design (SilverScreen), and a mathematics problem solving and symbolic manipulation program (MathCAD), as well as Internet and World Wide Web skills. A series of scripts (lab lessons) leads the students through selected capabilities of each program. Our approach stresses minimalist learning – the students learn the essential commands and capabilities of each program, and then elaborate these on their own. The scripts include some instructions that cause errors or lead to problems. This forces the students to think about the limitations of the software, and how to overcome them. They also learn that all software has flaws. Each lesson has an associated assignment to be completed outside the lab. Two major projects include developing a personal webpage, and a CAD design competition. This paper includes examples of student work and sample scripts.
In their first year at the University of Virginia (UVa), our students are exposed to two computer laboratory experiences. The first semester they take Introduction to Engineering and, in the second semester, Introduction to Computer Science. The latter course introduces computer programming using C++; the former uses applications programs to solve problems in engineering and applied science.
Computing applications and engineering problem solving are taught in the lecture and lab sections of a first year, first semester Introduction to Engineering course. This course includes design workshops as well. The design workshops involve three team based design projects. As the semester progresses, the material from lectures and labs is integrated into the design projects.
Our goal is to develop our students’ computing skills from the very start of their educational experience. The first lab introduces the computing environment at UVa, and covers basic use of the Internet and World Wide Web. In subsequent weeks, Excel, SilverScreen and MathCAD are each introduced with a couple of lessons and then
Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society of Engineering Education
Richards, L. (2001, June), Strategies For Teaching Computer Skills To First Year Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/9799
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