Rethinking Engineering Mathematics Education: A Model for Increased Retention, Motivation, and Success in Engineering

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Conference Proceeding

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This paper describes an NSF funded initiative at Wright State University (WSU) to redefine the way in which engineering mathematics is taught, with the goal of increasing student retention, motivation and success in engineering. The approach begins with the development of a novel freshman-level engineering mathematics course (EGR 101). Taught by engineering faculty, the course will include lecture, laboratory and recitation components. Using an application-oriented, hands-on approach, the course will address only the salient math topics actually used in a variety of core engineering courses. These include the traditional physics, engineering mechanics, electric circuits and computer programming sequences. While the above core courses are traditionally reserved for the sophomore and junior years, it is proposed to move them earlier in the curriculum, with EGR 101 as the only math prerequisite. It is finally proposed to develop a new Engineering Calculus sequence to be taught by the Math department later in the curriculum, in concert with college and ABET requirements. By removing traditional math prerequisite requirements and moving core engineering courses earlier in the program, the WSU approach will entail a significant restructuring of the engineering curriculum. The result will shift the traditional emphasis on math prerequisite requirements to an emphasis on engineering motivation for math, with a just-in-time structuring of the new math sequence. While this curriculum reform initiative is still in its early stages, this paper will summarize the motivation, goals and development to date of the WSU model for engineering mathematics education.


This paper was presented at the ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Salt Lake City (UT), June 2004.