fredag 16 oktober 2009

Mathematics Education at Helsinki University of Technology

This is a little preparation for my talk at Seminar on New Perspectives in Teaching Mathematics Oct 26 at Helsinki University of Technology HUT. The web information about mathematics education at HUT reads:

The Institute of Mathematics at the Helsinki University of Technology is responsible for teaching essentially all the mathematics needed in engineering. The three main objectives are the following:
  • To organize and teach undergraduate courses, aiming to give students the basic mathematical knowledge needed to complete their engineering studies.
  • To transfer the latest know-how in mathematics and scientific computing to the scientists in different fields of engineering.
  • To carry out research work within mathematics and to provide a stimulating environment for the training of young researchers.
Undergraduate courses are taught in large units, in which the specific features of each engineering department can be taken account for, and the continuous reformation of the material can be carried out in a flexible way. These courses cover essentially all fields of mathematics needed in engineering. Undergraduate courses are organized, aiming to give students the basic mathematical knowledge needed to complete their engineering studies.

The goals of the basic courses are uniformly formulated to be:
  • Provide the basic skills needed in the degree program concerning the subject matter of the course. 
  • Strengthen mathematical reasoning skills. 
  • Practise in the mathematical formulation of applied problems. 
  • Familiarize with applications of methods presented.
These statements appear to be self-referential with the objective of the mathematics courses described to be the study of mathematics or the mathematics needed to complete engineering studies. It is unclear what is meant by 
  • mathematical reasoning skills: theorem - proof?
  • mathematical formulation: only formulation not solution? 
  • familiarize with applications of methods: not mastery of techniques?
The curriculum appears to be standard which in my presentation is described as OLD
with unclear answers to the questions of What, Why and How? 

We compare with the following short answers of a  NEW reformed curriculum:
  • What: computational calculus/linear algebra + programming
  • Why: computational simulation of complex systems in science and engineering
  • How: construction of computer games.
In short:
  • NEW: engineering mathematics = simulation technology.

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