Natick, Mass. - (7 Sep 2011)
MathWorks today announced that the College of Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) has integrated MATLAB throughout its undergraduate chemical engineering program. Students have been using MATLAB in at least one course each year, consistently building their software expertise. Professors can teach more and increasingly sophisticated engineering concepts because students are not spending time learning and relearning disparate tool environments.
During a recent undergraduate program assessment, required by ABET, Inc., MSU found that students showed below-threshold performance in applying math and computer tools to problem solving. Inconsistent use of computing tools throughout the engineering program made it difficult for students to develop confidence and expertise. Students often resorted to cookbook approaches to assigned tasks, which are less effective in helping students apply their skills on authentic engineering problems.
“Without systematic and repeated use of a computational tool over the entire undergraduate student experience, students spend additional time relearning the computer tool when solving a rich problem, instead of focusing on the concept being taught,” said Dr. Daina Briedis, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU. “As we integrated MATLAB throughout the curriculum, student learning, as evidenced by assessment scores, steadily improved until they met or exceeded our thresholds. The students also reported higher confidence levels in their abilities—and when students believe they can complete a task, they generally will.”
The chemical engineering program integrated MATLAB across its undergraduate engineering curriculum, using it in required courses during all four years. The intent is to expand this to other engineering curricula in the near future. Recognizing that systemic changes across a curriculum require faculty support, MSU provided faculty with MATLAB training, video tutorials, and direct teaching assistant support for developing problem sets.
“Through MSU’s efforts, MATLAB can be used as a common language for professors and students in the chemical engineering program,” said Tom Gaudette, principal academic evangelist at MathWorks. “With an integrated curriculum, professors have greatly reduced, if not eliminated, the need to spend time bringing students up to speed on the tools, and as a result, they can focus on teaching the theory of the course.”
In addition to her work in the chemical engineering program, Professor Briedis is one of the core researchers in the MSU Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER). For more information, visit http://ceer.egr.msu.edu.
MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of technical computing, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for simulation and Model-Based Design for multidomain dynamic and embedded systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these product families to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, electronics, financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical, and other industries. MathWorks products are also fundamental teaching and research tools in the world's universities and learning institutions. Founded in 1984, MathWorks employs more than 2400 people in 15 countries, with headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, USA. For additional information, visit www.mathworks.com.
MATLAB and Simulink are registered trademarks of The MathWorks, Inc. See www.mathworks.com/trademarks for a list of additional trademarks. Other product or brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.