Difficulties with the Calculus sequence in the engineering curriculum leads to many students abandoning engineering programs. Many of these students are from underrepresented groups such as women and students of color. This is a significant loss to the profession. The problem is not new and engineering educators have worked on different strategies to alleviate this problem. A fairly well-known approach, first proposed by faculty from Wright State University, involves teaching an Engineering Mathematics class to freshmen engineering students. Taught by engineers (and not mathematicians), this course typically covers only those topics from the entire Calculus curriculum that are actually used in early engineering courses. Passing this course allows students to continue into freshmen and sophomore level engineering classes while they are still continuing to finish the traditional sequence of Calculus courses. This course was recently added to the engineering curriculum at University of Detroit Mercy’s (Detroit Mercy) engineering program. This paper discusses the course content and the experience of teaching it to the engineering students, along with its impact on retention and student success. Specifically, data from the initial offerings is used to discuss the impact of this course on the students’ ability to handle engineering science courses without having finished the calculus sequence.
Dr. Shuvra Das started working at University of Detroit Mercy in January 1994 and is currently Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Over this time, he served in a variety of administrative roles such as Mechanical Engineering Department Chair, Associate Dean for Research and Outreach, and Director of International Programs in the college of Engineering and Science. He has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and Master’s and Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Iowa State University. He was a post-doctoral researcher at University of Notre Dame and worked in industry for several years prior to joining Detroit Mercy.
Dr. Das has taught a variety of courses ranging from freshmen to advanced graduate level such as Mechanics of Materials, Introductory and Advanced Finite Element Method, Engineering Design, Introduction to Mechatronics, Mechatronic Modeling and Simulation, Mathematics for Engineers, Electric Drives and Electromechanical Energy Conversion. He led the effort in the college to start several successful programs: an undergraduate major in Robotics and Mechatronic Systems Engineering, a graduate certificate in Advanced Electric Vehicles, and a thriving partnership for student recruitment with several universities in China. He has also been the dissertation advisor for and graduated many Ph.D. students.
Dr. Das’s areas of research interests are modeling and simulation of multi-disciplinary engineering problems, modeling multi-physics problems in manufacturing, engineering education, and curriculum reform. He has worked in areas ranging from mechatronics system simulation to multi-physics process simulation using CAE tools such as Finite Elements and Boundary Elements. He has authored or co-authored five books on these topics.
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