Interim report: Industrial Problem Solving for the Higher Education Curriculum

Martin Homer (Engineering Mathematics, Bristol) provided the following as an interim report for his project a while ago. Apologies that I am only just getting around to posting it here.


The aim of this project is to help enhance the teaching of applications of mathematics in higher education, by developing a shared online resource of industrial and scientific problems built on real examples. The project is progressing well, despite protracted contract negotiations requiring a re-organisation of the project plan. We were fortunate to identify an experienced candidate for the researcher role who would be able to deliver all the original project goals over a shorter timeframe, together with the assistance of an hourly paid researcher. Both were successfully recruited, and have been working well together to deliver the goals as per the revised timetable. Our key deliverable, the wiki that forms the core of our collaborative resource, is up and running and publicly accessible.

We have defined a template, consisting of a short summary of the problem, and materials required to address it. To better allow academics to use the material in parctice, we have also included the pre-requisites necessary to work on the problem (as broad subject areas: basic statistics, discrete mathematics, or numerical solution of ODEs, for example), as well as hints and tips on possible approaches or solution techniques, and a list of possible extensions for more advanced students. Data has been attached where relevant. The wiki has been populated with a wide range of problems (over 50, at current count) across a range of disciplines and application areas, covering both model- and data-centric approaches. The problems are organised by level (roughly corresponding to first, second and third-year undergraduate level), and comprise both existing problems from the department’s mathematical modelling course stream, as well as new case studies from our industrial and commercial partners.

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