For students who have relatively little experience with programming, a graduate-level course on computational or numerical methods can be daunting. To engage these students, and to enable them to reach a functional level for engineering tasks within a semester, instructors must provide meaningful exercises tailored to the students’ specific engineering interests while ensuring that students advance at a rapid pace without being overwhelmed by low-level coding details.
Carnegie Mellon University professor of biomedical engineering Dr. Yu-li Wang met this challenge by combining a flipped classroom strategy with MATLAB® based assignments. Students complete interactive MATLAB tutorials before coming to class. In class, they apply the basic skills they’ve acquired in the tutorials to problems that are at a more advanced level or relevant to biomedical engineering. Dr. Wang has found that this approach increases engagement and helps prepare students for the engineering problems they will tackle as practising professionals.
“Teaching numerical methods with a traditional, textbook-based approach can be dry and not particularly interesting for the students, so in my course we jump right into the tasks with MATLAB,” says Dr. Wang. “By the end of the course, the students are better prepared to be effective engineers than students trained in a more conventional numerical methods class.”