Teaching Engineering Mathematics in the class: where problem lies?

One of many reasons why students go for engineering is being good at math. But, how math is connected? If a high school students tries to find the answer without taking the help of Internet, it would have been hard.

Actually same goes for many other subjects, how you know what will come more handy, later in your education/general life? This used to puzzle me while being in Bangladesh. I had the presumption that in the United States this is different. Actually it is not.

Unlike in Bangladesh, most take classes depending on their interest. But often times in becomes hard to picture the relevance of a topic within the subtle degree, how it will be beneficial to the real life/or career.

Mathematics is crucial for engineering, and their should be sessions in the very beginning of freshmen year,  giving the overall idea amount of math one needs to go through. Same for other subjects. Which may increase the load for universities but it can stop some of the unfortunate dropouts.

Telegraph reports in highest dropout in UK is in Computer Science and Engineering. As an engineering myself, I can understand the reasons bit better than most others. For USA, I was unable to collect any specific subjectwise data. About dropouts in USA, Institute of Educational Science reports,

About 59 percent of students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2007 completed that degree within 6 years. The graduation rate for females (62 percent) was higher than the rate for males (56 percent).

Now, let me get back to the point which made me start this article: Teaching mathematics to an Engineering class. The process should involve professors/professionals who can relate mathematics with Engineering. Mathematics courses are mandatory courses most of the times but the instructor must remember, they do not target to be mathematicians (There is nothing wrong trying to be one) they need to learn to use the knowledge in engineering. That’s it.

The possible conflict arises when discussion takes place on increasing the body of knowledge, it is required to understand every aspect of the respective and relevant field by an individual. Professors making professors, researchers—in simple. But, what percent are they compared to dropouts or people who lost interest or got frustrated?

Also, most of the cases a professional who has spent 99% of his/her team doing research, may not be the best person to teach in class to demonstrate practical relation with the theories. Engineering specially should not be such. Business, finance and some other departments usually brings renowned professionals rather than academics to talk about their work. Unfortunately, in most (Except Computer science) I have seen visiting lecturers mostly being professors of other universities.

The general system should focus on making Engineers, not creating barriers for them. I understand the traditional systems priority on increasing ‘body of knowledge’, but things need to change and change wisely. Most people get into school for a better life, better living. And they invest on it.


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