The College of Engineering and Technology at Northern recently received a generous grant of $12,750 from Conoco Phillips to improve student learning outcomes through changes to basic math and physics curriculum for engineering students. In the fall of 2015, Conoco Phillips also gave $6000 to the College of Engineering and Technology (article here), which was applied to providing enhanced learning and study environments at the state-of-the-art SERPA (Solar Energy Research Park and Academy) building.
“Physics for us is a bottleneck because it’s a class that students struggle with, and because of that students become frustrated and drop the program, or they continue but encounter delays,” said Dr. Ivan Lopez, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, while explaining the college's plans to revise the basic engineering curriculum.
The curriculum changes have now been approved by Northern administrators and will be implemented beginning with the Fall 2016 semester. For math, rather than take a one-semester Introductory Math for Engineering Applications class, students will complete the foundational math during a two-semester class that allows more time to grasp the necessary theories and concepts, and integrates more hands-on applications.
For physics, rather than take Engineering Physics I and II, students will now take Physics for Engineers I, II and III, thus spreading the foundational physics coursework out over three semesters instead of two, again, with the intention of allowing students more time to grasp the integral concepts. Additionally, the physics coursework will also involve a new physics lab, created by engineers for engineering students.
“One of my mantras is integration,” said Dr. Steve Cox, a member of the engineering faculty who will be heading up design of the new dress. “Often the physicists design the physics labs, the computer scientists design the computation labs. But we’re wanting to integrate theory, experimentation and computation as if they are three points on a triangle, integrating these three together in the same lab with an experience particularly designed for engineering students.”
For more information about engineering at Northern visit the College of Engineering and Technology online.