Modern engineers must be able to interpret and visualize large amounts of data and apply new technologies and modern tools to solve engineering problems . Computational Modeling in Engineering is therefore a core course for WFU engineering students. The driving goal for this course is to support students’ development in applying mathematical frameworks to solve challenging real-world problems with computing resources. Students learn to use computational problem solving tools from the engineer’s toolbox (programming, systems modelling, and numerical methods), while also considering the social, economic and environmental outcomes of decisions that are made using certain techniques. The course introduces students to basic numerical analysis methods that can be used to solve a variety of engineering problems. Topics include programming fundamentals, numerical error analysis, root finding, numerical linear algebra, optimization, curve fitting, numerical integration and differentiation, and systems of ordinary differential equations. The emphasis is on applications of these techniques using a mathematical software package such as MATLAB. Examples are drawn from transportation, structural, biomedical, electrical and computer engineering problems.
Student learning culminates in a final project that requires students to apply multiple topics to a single, complex system. We source project ideas from the SIMIODE community and modify them to align with the course content and our learning objectives. Students publish major homework assignments and their final project on a personal Google Site, providing them with a digital portfolio that they can showcase to future employers upon completing the course. An example of a completed course project can be viewed here and is briefly illustrated below. Students complete a series of Problem Solving Labs throughout the semester to learn how to apply numerical methods. They complete an initial and final version to give them time to learn and implement the methods in stages. The final version should be thoughtful and demonstrate effective and professional presentation and written communication skills.