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Teaching Programming And Numerical Methods As Concurrent Courses

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1367.1 - 12.1367.8



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Paper Authors


David Sawyers Ohio Northern University

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DAVID R. SAWYERS, JR. is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University, where he teaches courses in General Engineering and in the Thermal Sciences. He received a BSME degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the MS and PhD, both in Mechanical Engineering, from The University of Notre Dame.

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John-David Yoder Ohio Northern University

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JOHN-DAVID YODER is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at ONU.
His Doctorate is from the University of Notre Dame. Research interests include education, controls, robotics, and information processing. Prior to teaching, he ran a small consulting and R&D company and served as proposal engineering supervisor for GROB Systems, Inc.

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

Teaching Programming and Numerical Methods as Concurrent Courses Abstract

This paper discusses the efforts of the authors to coordinate their teaching of Programming and Numerical Methods to third-year mechanical engineering students. Course schedules and assignments have been coordinated to take advantage of the overlapping topics and skills required. In particular, several joint assignments were given to combine the students’ understanding of numerical methods with their ability to develop computer programs using the C++ language. These assignments required the numerical solution of problems students had previously encountered in other engineering courses.


In the mechanical engineering curriculum of Ohio Northern University, a Junior-level course in Numerical Methods has been offered for many years. This course introduces methods and algorithms for solving a wide range of problems, while presuming that students possess adequate knowledge of a computer language to implement these algorithms. In the past, students who were enrolled in this course had previous experience (usually during the sophomore year) with a structured programming language. However, due to significant changes in the Freshman and Sophomore curriculum, the prerequisite programming course is no longer available.

Due to the removal of programming from the general engineering curriculum at Ohio Northern, two options were considered: ending the requirement for structured programming in upper-level courses (relying solely on application-specific software tools), or offering a Programming course concurrently with Numerical Methods in the Junior year. While commercial software is useful for solving many problems, the mechanical engineering faculty decided that knowledge of a structured programming language was still an important skill for our students to develop12. As a result, a C++ programming course was introduced in the fall quarter of 2006. This Junior-level course, consisting of one lecture and one lab per week, was taught concurrently with Numerical Methods.

This paper will provide an overview of the format and topics covered in both courses, will describe how the two courses have been coordinated, and will discuss some of the benefits and difficulties encountered. In particular, the authors will discuss several problems, based on engineering applications, that were assigned jointly in both classes.

Numerical Methods

In the recent past, Numerical Methods has been taught to mechanical engineering undergraduates at Ohio Northern University in the fall of the Junior year. The course consists of four fifty- minute lectures per week. The textbook used is Numerical Methods for Engineers by Chapra and Canal3 and the lectures generally follow the text, although only a fraction of the topics included by the authors can be adequately covered in a first course on numerical methods.

Sawyers, D., & Yoder, J. (2007, June), Teaching Programming And Numerical Methods As Concurrent Courses Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1616

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