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Another FaCTS Mellon Project

Using Case Studies for Teaching Analytical Methods for Physics and Engineering

by Dr. James Rantschler

The goal of this project is to teach ENGR 2630/PHYS 2630 Analytical Methods for Physics and Engineering through case studies. Case studies provide multifaceted, content-rich examples for students to explore while learning the material. These examples give context to the mathematical methods taught in the course as well as give the students experience in the analysis of complex problems.

The case study technique teaches students to diagram problems, break them down into manageable sub-problems, and work with incomplete information. They are required to do research outside of class to find that information or make reasonable approximations to or estimations of it. These are all aspects of critical thinking and part of the workaday world of physicists and engineers.

Specific cases will be chosen to emphasize particular mathematical methods, but their multifaceted nature will require the students to use previously discussed techniques, coming back to use them in new contexts. Topics will be chosen from a variety of engineering and physics fields, such as electronics, magnetism, and fluid flow. By seeing the same method used in a variety of circumstances and having to choose among them, students will come to better understand both the methods and the physics for which they are used.

Start date: Thursday, April 28, 2011
Finish date: Saturday, April 28, 2012