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What Math Do We Really Need?

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Systems Approach to Teaching ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1467.1 - 10.1467.9



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Paper Authors

author page

John Robertson

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

Session 1649

What math do we really need? John Robertson, Richard Newman College of Technology & Applied Science, Arizona State University, 7001 E Williams Field Rd, Mesa, Arizona 85212


The Microelectronics program in the Technology College at ASU was totally restructured in 2001. The courses are entirely new and have novel (web + class) delivery arrangements. There has also been substantial industry input both for planning and contributions in the class-room. As a result, we have been able to execute a strategy that aligns the skills and capabilities of the graduates with the starting requirements of our 12 supporting companies. The next stage is to “pull” the skills needed by the senior-level courses from the lower division and feeder programs.

On that basis, we have analyzed the math used in two microelectronics courses: 1. UET416 – Dopant control technology. This covers transistor operation, ion implantation of dopants and diffusion in subsequent thermal processing steps. It has everything from differential equations to statistical control and no matter the university where it is given, the topic has a strong traditional math content. 2. UET417 – Clean room practice. The primary goal is to ensure safe working conditions. The scope includes effective communications and reporting with the typically diverse range of data encountered in any high-tech industry. Every math instance in almost 1000 slides has been classified. The results show a strong emphasis on problem and solution representation.

1. Rationale for the analysis

Any discussion about the math skills required by engineering students is guaranteed to be lively. It seems to be one of these eternal debates, perhaps because it has so many dimensions. Some of the main issues are:

• We practice a profession which is built on mathematical representation coupled with data for validation and analysis. • We have an organizational “build or buy” option. Most departments see-saw between providing their own math courses and farming them out to the specialist math departments. • In a world of rapidly changing technology, the basics are constant. That gives comfort to some, especially when allied to the more subtle desire to preserve a measure of elitism in a mass education market.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Robertson, J. (2005, June), What Math Do We Really Need? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15518

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