MAXWELL-LAB: A MAKER EXPERIENCE INTEGRATING ELECTROMAGNETISM, SEVERAL VARIABLE CALCULUS AND NUMERICAL METHODS COURSES TO CONSTRUCT INTERACTIVE VISUALIZATION PROJECTS
Engineering Education is demanding strong applied skills not only in terms of effective prototyping but with computer simulation skills. With diverse curricula including math, theoretical concepts, experimental and computer abilities, engineering students rarely are involved in integrated curriculum activities in their first years of University Education. Thus, math, physics, and programming courses are commonly isolated experiences expected to be useful in further sections of engineering curricula. Those courses could appear disconnected from the core engineering Education. Despite, modern engineering Education is requiring an increasing integration with computer simulation into a scientific perspective of it.
This work reports the design and implementation outcomes for an innovative experience integrating some sections of the curriculum for three common engineering courses in the sophomore year: Electricity and Magnetism, Several variables Calculus, and Numerical Methods. Integration is based on a maker-oriented activity centered in the construction of an interactive simulation around of theoretical and abstract concepts as electric potential and electric field, as well as magnetic field. These physical aspects are developed for a complex arbitrary charge or electrical current distributions able to be proposed by the computer simulations being constructed. To be developed, applications should involve concepts and tools of Several Variable Calculus courses together with adequate numerical techniques being programmed in the Numerical Methods course. Applications being constructed commonly involve the analysis of probe charges movement around the setup, so additional concepts related to Dynamics and Differential Equation courses are presented together. This experience was settled combining and coordinating the work of teachers in those courses. Part of students was enrolled in at least two courses at a time. Then, they were bridges of knowledge among the courses involved for their teams. Simulations were built programming and rendering as Mathematica demonstrations.
A brief of the activities design is presented together with the differential gain analysis in terms of engineering skills impact and learning. The analysis is mainly depicted since the Numerical Methods course’s point of view where elements as numerical integration, non-linear equations solving and differential equations solving were numerically focused in order to develop arbitrary and configurable demonstrations as projects being evaluated together for these courses. By its construction, this innovative approach becomes a STEM initiative to engage students with Science and Engineering skill development in terms of their own learning.