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Update On Impec: An Integrated First Year Engineering Curriculum At N.C. State University

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.598.1 - 3.598.7



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Paper Authors

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Robert J. Beichner

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Richard M. Felder

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Philip R. Dail

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Leonhard E. Bernold

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Ernest E. Burniston

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

Session 2230


Richard M. Felder, Robert J. Beichner, Leonhard E. Bernold, Ernest E. Burniston, Philip R. Dail, Hugh Fuller North Carolina State University

An integrated freshman engineering curriculum called IMPEC (Integrated Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry Curriculum) has undergone three years of pilot-testing at North Carolina State University under the sponsorship of the SUCCEED Coalition. In each semester of IMPEC, the students take a calculus course, a science course (chemistry in the first semester, physics in the second), and a one-credit engineering course. The curriculum is taught by a multidisciplinary team of professors using a combination of traditional lecturing and alternative instructional methods including cooperative learning, activity-based class sessions, and extensive use of computer simulations. The goals of the curriculum are to provide motivation and context for the fundamental material taught in the first-year mathematics and science courses, a realistic and positive orientation to the engineering profession, and training in the problem-solving, study, and communication skills that correlate with success in engineering school and equip individuals to be lifelong learners. This paper summarizes program assessment and evaluation results and describes plans to export features of IMPEC into the regular first-year engineering curriculum.

Curriculum Structure and Instructional Approach

The principal features of IMPEC are as follows:

• In the fall semester, the students take a four-credit introductory calculus course, a three-credit general chemistry course with an additional one-credit laboratory, and a one-credit engineering course. In the spring semester, they take a second four-credit calculus course, a four-credit physics course (mechanics), and a second one-credit engineering course. The calculus, chemistry, and physics courses parallel those in the regular curriculum. The fall engineering course replaces the standard freshman orientation course, and the spring engineering course is an add-on to the standard curriculum. • The courses are team-taught by mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering professors, who present fundamental scientific and mathematical material in the context of real-world problems to the greatest extent possible. As a rule only one professor at a time is in the classroom, but several times during each semester the entire IMPEC faculty is present to conduct a “workshop” on a topic that involves all of the disciplines being taught. The faculty meets periodically, in person and electronically, to coordinate assignments, schedule activities, and discuss any problems that the students seem to be having. • With the exception of the chemistry laboratory, the courses are taught in a single classroom equipped with PC’s that have real-time data acquisition capability. The classroom holds 36 students, thus limiting the enrollment in IMPEC.

Beichner, R. J., & Felder, R. M., & Dail, P. R., & Bernold, L. E., & Burniston, E. E. (1998, June), Update On Impec: An Integrated First Year Engineering Curriculum At N.C. State University Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7488

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