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Where's the Math in Engineering?

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2021 Illinois-Indiana Regional Conference



Publication Date

April 16, 2021

Start Date

April 16, 2021

End Date

April 17, 2021

Conference Session

Classroom Methodologies

Tagged Topic

Classroom methodologies

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Susan C. Brooks Western Illinois University - Quad Cities

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Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy at Western Illinois University - Quad Cities since 2013; Ph.D. earned in pure mathematics from the University of Iowa specializing in Topology; teaches statistics, applied calculus, calculus and analytical geometry, and ordinary differential equations; current research interest is in knot theory.

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Engineering analysis depends on modeling the physical world mathematically. In engineering practice, the models are often already developed, the solutions derived, and a computer program written to carry out the calculations. Practicing engineers are engaged in applying the answers; model development and the computer programming required to generate the answers is literally bought and otherwise, largely ignored. Has engineering analysis really become an Input/Output process devoid of mathematics? In teaching students to be engineers, instructors strive to develop a set of reasoning and mathematical skills that apparently are “never used”.

In this paper, perceived student shortcomings that inhibit a student’s acceptance, development, and lifelong use of mathematics are discussed and several interventions are proposed. The paper concludes with a discussion focusing on the development of a mathematical model for the consolidation of soil. The discussion points out the need to introduce modeling concepts and models of fundamental physical phenomena early on in engineering coursework and to then continuously use those mathematical models to describe increasingly sophisticated processes. The goal is to continuously develop and apply knowledge of mathematics while in school and throughout professional practice.

Brooks, S. C. (2021, April), Where's the Math in Engineering? Paper presented at 2021 Illinois-Indiana Regional Conference, Virtual. 10.18260/1-2--38283

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