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Linking mathematics with engineering applications at an early stage – implementation, experimental set-up and evaluation of a pilot project

A. Rooch, P. Junker, J. Härterich, K. Hackl.

European Journal of Engineering Education, 41, 172-191, (2016)

Abstract
Too difficult, too abstract, too theoretical – many first-year engineering students complain about their mathematics courses. The project MathePraxis aims to resolve this disaffection. It links mathematical methods as they are taught in the first semesters with practical problems from engineering applications – and thereby shall give first-year engineering students a vivid and convincing impression of where they will need mathematics in their later working life. But since real applications usually require more than basic mathematics and first-year engineering students typically are not experienced with construction, mensuration and the use of engineering software, such an approach is hard to realise. In this article, we show that it is possible. We report on the implementation of MathePraxis at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. We describe the set-up and the implementation of a course on designing a mass damper which combines basic mathematical techniques with an impressive experiment. In an accompanying evaluation, we have examined the students' motivation relating to mathematics. This opens up new perspectives how to address the need for a more practically oriented mathematical education in engineering sciences. © 2015 SEFI.


Keyword(s): first-year students, mathematics, practical orientation, motivation, mass damper, oscillation, differential equations
Cite as: https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-84955389363&doi=10.1080%2f03043797.2015.1056095&partnerID=40&md5=476e53b0621a80bcda5fabbd9e75a8d9
DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2015.1056095
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