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Resources for first-year engineers

Maths-Aid, the drop-in maths help service at Newcastle University where I do a bit of work, commissioned some worksheets and accompanying videos for engineers, to be completed over the Summer. The idea was that they would cover the most commonly-requested topics at Maths-Aid, providing pretty much the same information as we would give in a one-to-one session but not acting as a replacement for lecture notes and textbooks.

They’re finally just about finished after a lot of employee-herding and you can see them on the Maths-Aid website. Each worksheet consists of a brief introduction followed by worked example questions. Embedded in each question is a video of me going through the solution from start to finish. They were very quick to produce, and I think they will be very useful. By the way, all these videos and a few others I’ve made are available on our Vimeo account.

The original worksheets were written in Word, so I translated them to HTML+MathJax because it’s much much more convenient. I’ve left links to the Word documents on the page in case people want to print it out, but there’s a nice print stylesheet so just printing out the page itself produces good results.

Now that the worksheets and videos are finished, we’re adding some interactive revision questions using Numbas. At the moment there’s one for the simple second-order ODEs sheet. It produces a randomly generated ODE to solve each time you run it, and can give hints or a full worked solution if you get stuck. There’s a button to re-randomise each question, so you can just stick at it for as long as you like.

I’m trying to make a case in the E-Learning Unit for more of this kind of thing being produced: I think they’re very useful, and complement lecture notes and textbooks very well.