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Teaching Mathematics with MATLAB and Simulink

Teaching Mathematics with MATLAB and Simulink

Aim: To merge traditional mathematics and coding using MATLAB Live Scripts.

Challenge: 

Previously, Engineering students would only be introduced to MATLAB in their final year of study for an engineering course and so, struggled to apply computational skills beyond graduation.

“It is becoming increasingly essential for students to be able to interact with software in engineering mathematics. Coding a solution method brings a better understanding of the processes at hand and the visual outcome bridges the gap between mathematics and other engineering subjects.”  

Solution: 

Dr Erasmus integrated MATLAB and Simulink into the first-year engineering mathematics course to facilitate early association of traditional mathematics and relevant MATLAB and Simulink coding.

“Traditional universities offer coding as a separate course, but I have found that our students adopt the combined version with great enthusiasm.” 

Students are taught through a variety of methods which include subject relevant online MAOTS courses and interaction with traditional subject matter on MATLAB’s Live Scripts platform where relevant coding is demonstrated.

“Using MATLAB, my students can change certain key variables, for instance in the second order differential equation when modelling a spring mass damping system and then observe the implications thereof – this is engineering.” 

Result: 

Dr Erasmus is currently implementing this integrated teaching approach for the first time, so far, the students have responded with enthusiasm. “Enlightened…the look on a student’s face when they draw their first graph in MATLAB.”

Dr Erasmus is also taking on an additional challenge which will be to implement a “Bring Your Own Device” programme so that students are empowered and encouraged to start their learning journey early. It also turns any classroom into a computer lab which relieves classroom allocation logistics.

“…it would be great to have all students receive a laptop upon enrollment with the necessary software installed so that we can get-on with the important stuff, like learning, from day one 😊.” 

Dr Michelle Erasmus, Applied Mathematics Ph.D (UFS)

Lecturer: Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology

Mar 25
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