M. Delgado-Téllez, A. Pérez Raposo

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
The purpose of the paper is to encourage both creativity and cooperative-learning in the context of a mathematical class for engineers that can also be applied to other disciplines. We would like to stress here that these two topics highly motivate the students in the learning process as well as they help to introduce mathematics as something natural into their engineering lives.
Studying an engineering does not only involve acquiring some knowledge, but also the capability to be able to create solutions to different problems that arise in both the studies and the development of their careers as engineers. They will need to innovate and to cooperate with others as part of their normal jobs.
We will show two experiments that we have made with our students involving creativity and cooperative learning in both calculus and algebra of the Building Engineering Degree, in the Polytechnic University of Madrid, at the School of Building Engineering in Madrid. We have found that students have approached closer to the knowledge and understanding of some concepts of the subjects after having applied these experiments. They were told to invent some buildings with different mathematical constraints. The first project was more fixed, because they had to create basically the same building, a music auditorium, with different roofs, with some requirements such as a fixed minimum height and volume. The second one was completely open, concerning the use of conics and quadrics, to improve their understanding in that part of the subject. They just had to make up a building, any type, containing some of those mathematical elements. The results were surprisingly good, as they were able to achieve more tasks than the asked ones.