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Integration of Computational Mathematics Education in the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Conference paper
Authors Mikael Enelund
Stig Larsson
Johan Malmqvist
Published in Proceedings of 7th International CDIO Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences, Mathematics
Language en
Keywords Engineering mathematics, Integrated, computational oriented mathematics education, Full view of problem solving, Virtual learning environments
Subject categories Applied mathematics, Applied Mechanics


The rapid development of computers and the internet has given new opportunities for engineering work as wells as for teaching and learning. The use of advanced modern mathematics is becoming increasingly more popular in the engineering community and and most problem solutions and developments incorporate high precision digital models, numerical analyses and simulations. However, this kind of mathematics has not been fully implemented into current engineering education programs. Students spend too much time on solving oversimplified problems that can be expressed analytically and with solutions that are already known in advance. Instead, we should be using computers to solve more general, real-world problems. Here we present the integration of a computationally oriented mathematics education into the CDIO-based MSc program in mechanical engineering at Chalmers. We found that the CDIO-approach was beneficial when designing a reformed mathematics education and integrating the mathematics in the curriculum. In the reform of the mathematics education, traditional symbolic mathematics is integrated with numerical calculations and the computer is used as a tool. Furthermore, the computer exercises and homework assignments are taken from applications of mechanical engineering and solutions are analyzed and discussed by means of simulations. The experience is very positive. The students’ interest for computation and simulation has increased. The students consider the the computer to be an important tool for learning and understanding of mathematics. Students spend more time training mathematics and solve more problems.

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