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Teaching an Undergraduate Introductory MATLAB Course: Successful Implementation for Student Learning

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Uses for MATLAB in Mechancial Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kyle Frederick Larsen P.E. Eastern Washington University

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Dr. Larsen currently teaches mechanical engineering at Eastern Washington University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from California State University Sacramento and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University.

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N.M. A. Hossain Eastern Washington University

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Dr. Hossain is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Design at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA. His research interests involve the computational and experimental analysis of lightweight space structures and composite materials. Dr. Hossain received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Engineering and Science from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, South Dakota.

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Martin William Weiser Eastern Washington University

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Martin Weiser is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Design Department at Eastern Washington University. He earned his BS in Ceramic Engineering from the Ohio State University and his MS and PhD in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He then joined the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of New Mexico where he taught Materials Science, Thermodynamics, Manufacturing Engineering, and Technical Communication. Martin then joined Johnson Matthey Electronics/Honeywell Electronic Materials where he held positions in Technical Service, Product Management, Six Sigma, and Research & Development. He is an inventor on a dozen patents and patent applications and has published over 30 papers and book chapters on topics including ceramic processing, Pb-free solder development, experimental design, and biomechanics. His current research focuses on rocket propellant characterization, fin flutter, and heat transfer.

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In our institution, we offer a one-quarter long MATLAB class for the Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) curriculum. This course teaches computational methods to solve engineering problems using the program MATLAB. The coursework involves teaching fundamental programing along with engineering principles to build the concept, analyzing simple structural problems using matrix algebra and then solving a wide variety of engineering problems dealing with statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. Students enrolled in this class solve a variety of problems by setting them up analytically then programing them and solving them in MATLAB. As we are in a quarter system, it is challenging to solve multidisciplinary complex engineering problems in regular class lectures. Therefore, students enrolled in this class are required to program a variety of engineering problems within a short time. These problems must have adequate engineering complexity and themes conveying interesting knowledge or technical concepts, and at the same time be concise enough to be completed during the course. While a course in MATLAB could be a common offering in many universities, the authors of this paper presents the pedagogical approaches undertaken to successfully implement the course objectives to the undergraduate engineering students. The topics and techniques applied to teach different topics of engineering problems to enhance students learning outcomes are addressed in this paper. The paper also presents how different topics taught in this class fulfill the targeted course objectives, which are mapped with ABET Engineering criteria.

Larsen, K. F., & Hossain, N. A., & Weiser, M. W. (2016, June), Teaching an Undergraduate Introductory MATLAB Course: Successful Implementation for Student Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26016

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