Teaching Mathematics For Civil Engineering Students Applying Experiments

Teaching Mathematics For Civil Engineering Students Applying Experiments

J. Ulfkjaer, J. Nielsen (2012).  Teaching Mathematics For Civil Engineering Students Applying Experiments. 12.

For the last five years at the Aarhus School of Engineering a series of experiments which are closely related to the work as a civil engineer have been developed for supplementing teaching in differential equations and basic statistics and probability theory. The series of experiments which the students have to perform and report in groups are:

CO2 concentration: The physical problem is modelled through a first order differential equation and as the scatter is rather high it is a very good basis for teaching statistics. The indoor climate is always a problem in lecture rooms and the students are therefore a priori very motivated. This is the only experiment in the series the student does not have to design and implement for themselves.

The pendulum: Second order differential equations and linearization of harmonic equations is the mathematical topic. Even though the experiment is nothing more than having a mass and a string it is a challenge to perform good measurements. The students need to be inventive and perform well as a group to obtain success.

Dynamics of a chimney: The scope is as for the pendulum but there is also the aspect of structural engineering included.

Stability of a column: Again the mathematical topic is second order differential equations and again the aspect of structural engineering. The design and implementation of the experiment is not straight forward, especially the boundary conditions.

A student satisfaction measurement has been performed and in general the students are satisfied with the learning method. Especially working in groups is appreciated by the students.


Authors (New): 
Jens Peder Ulfkjaer
Jørgen Bundgaard Nielsen
Aarhus University, Denmark
achievement results
Integrated Learning
gender differences
Ulfkjaer, J.P, “Temaopgaver”, Aarhus School of Engineering, pp.1-6. : 
Howald Petersen, B, “Komfortventilation”, Undervisningsnotat. BYG·DTU U-052. Copenhagen 2005, pp. 1-91 (In Danish). : 
Wikipedia, ¨Pendulum (mathematics)¨, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendulum_ (mathematics): 
Brown, D and Christian, W., ”Simulating what you see: combining computer modelling with video analysis”, MPTL 16 and HSCI 2011, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2011 : 
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