Accelerating the pace of engineering and science

Motivating Learning in Year 1 at the University of Notre Dame Through Interactive, MATLAB Powered GUIs

Jay Brockman, University of Notre Dame
Craig Lent, University of Notre Dame

At the University of Notre Dame, all first‐year engineering students enroll in a two‐semester course sequence that fosters the development of both “hard” and “soft” engineering skills through a series of projects and studio‐based, hands‐on activities. Throughout the course, one of the central ideas is how engineers build and use models to predict the behavior of systems and to support design decisions. After a series of heavily scaffolded activities to develop basic skills, students work in teams to build a system of their own choosing—ranging from projectile launchers to casino tables to mockups of nanoparticle systems—along with a MATLAB model of their system complete with a graphical user interface. By adjusting the inputs to their models via sliders and buttons, students show how the predictions of their models compare with their observations in the real world. This webinar presents the faculty’s experiences with these projects, including their approaches to teaching MATLAB and GUIDE and managing projects in a class of 400–450 students.

About the Presenter:  Dr. Jay Brockman joined the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 1992 and is currently Associate Dean of Engineering for Educational Programs. His current research interests include computer architecture, hardware acceleration of parallel algorithms, and engineering education, especially the transition from high school to college. From 2003 through 2006, he was a visiting faculty associate at the Center for Advanced Computing Research at Caltech. Before moving into academia, he spent four years at Intel Corporation, focusing on testing and yield enhancement of nonvolatile memory products.

Brockman received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of the MATLAB based textbook Introduction to Engineering: Modeling and Problem Solving.

Product Focus


Recorded: 18 Aug 2011