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Title: Work in Progress: Implementing Elements of Engineering Design into Calculus
In order to contextualize calculus, first-year engineering students take on a semester-long design project that grounds engineering design as an epistemic practice. The project is designed to motivate students to creatively and collaboratively apply mathematical modeling to design roller coasters. Students are asked to engage as engineers and respond to a hypothetical theme park that has solicited design proposals for a new roller coaster. Students are required to use various mathematical functions such as polynomials and exponentials to create a piece-wise function that models the roller coaster track geometry. The entire project is composed of five modules, each lasting three weeks. Each module is associated with a specific calculus topic and is integrated into the design process in a form of a design constraint or performance metric. The module topics include continuity, smoothness, local maxima and minima, inflection points, and area under the curve. Students are expected to refine their models in each module, resulting in the iteration of the previous design to satisfy a new set of requirements. This paper presents the project organization, assessment methods, and student feedback. This work is part of a multi-year course intervention and professional development NSF project to increase the success of underrepresented and women students in engineering.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1832536
NSF-PAR ID:
10294275
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2021 ASEE Annual Conference
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    In order to contextualize calculus, first-year engineering students take on a semester-long design project that grounds engineering design as an epistemic practice. The project is designed to motivate students to creatively and collaboratively apply mathematical modeling to design roller coasters. Students are asked to engage as engineers and respond to a hypothetical theme park that has solicited design proposals for a new roller coaster. Students are required to use various mathematical functions such as polynomials and exponentials to create a piece-wise function that models the roller coaster track geometry. The entire project is composed of five modules, each lasting three weeks. Each module is associated with a specific calculus topic and is integrated into the design process in a form of a design constraint or performance metric. The module topics include continuity, smoothness, local maxima and minima, inflection points, and area under the curve. Students are expected to refine their models in each module, resulting in the iteration of the previous design to satisfy a new set of requirements. This paper presents the project organization, assessment methods, and student feedback. This work is part of a multi-year course intervention and professional development NSF project to increase the success of underrepresented and women students in engineering. 
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