Maplesoft products support e-learning for nuclear engineering courses at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

User Case Study:
Maplesoft products support e-learning for nuclear engineering courses at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Challenge
The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm wanted to develop an educational model that used e-learning to support campus-based education. The goal was to enhance learning and minimize time required for the delivery of courses.

Solution
Professor Waclaw Gudowski adopted Maplesoft solutions – Maple, Maple T.A. and Möbius – in his nuclear engineering courses to aid students in their transition to digital learning.

Result
The use of Maplesoft solutions has provided students with the necessary skills to use online learning tools and optimize their learning. Students are able to practice materials, which has helped to strengthen areas of weakness and improve critical thinking skills.


E-learning is fast becoming the standard in education around the world and new digital education tools are being developed to meet the growing needs of institutions, instructors and students. The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm is aiming to provide an educational model that uses e-learning to support high-quality campus-based education that enhances the pace of learning and potentially minimizes the amount of time required for course delivery. E-learning is also the institution’s main platform for delivery of distance education.

Waclaw Gudowski, a professor at KTH and Ph.D. graduate from Akademia Gorniczo-Hutnicza Technical University in Krakow, uses Maple, Maple T.A. and Möbius to help students in the nuclear engineering program make the adjustment to digital learning. Using these educational solutions has the added benefit of providing students with the necessary skills to utilize and adapt to new tools and get the greatest benefit from online learning.  “We are invigorating nuclear engineering education with Maple and Möbius,” Gudowski said. “It is part of the strategy and development of integrating e-learning into more branches of engineering.”

Gudowski has been doing pioneering work on the transmutation of nuclear wastes and accelerator-driven systems (ADS) since the early 1990s. As a professor at KTH, Gudowski uses his knowledge and experiences to teach a new generation of nuclear engineers.

Krzysztof Starzecki, who has worked with Gudowski since they began using Maple-powered courses at KTH, is a European Master’s in Nuclear Engineering (EMINE) graduate. He has studied at various technical universities, giving him a unique perspective on how different schools approach engineering courses.

As a part of their nuclear engineering e-learning platform, the university has established four pillars to guide the transition to this new online approach:

  • Promotion and “video navigation” through the entire nuclear energy engineering program, using short video pitches to describe relevant aspects of the nuclear engineering education
  • Providing support and e-learning opportunities for registered program students
  • Providing support and e-learning opportunities for Dual Diploma and International cooperation programs
  • Distance education and “on demand” courses for non-academic stakeholders from various branches of engineering and other industries. This aligns well with the Swedish concept of life-long learning.

Gudowski believes online-learning capabilities are becoming an important criterion that applicants and evaluators use when ranking institutions, which in turn makes them more attractive destinations for students.

The use of Maplesoft products at KTH strongly supports the four pillars. Gudowski and Starzecki use Maple and Möbius to better engage students and simplify the learning process. Together they translated and implemented existing exercises and exam questions in Maple. Course topics are divided into bi-weekly thematic home assignments that overlap with lectures. These exercises can be repeated indefinitely until the student arrives at the correct solution, either working alone, or collaborating with colleagues.

The use of the online technology for teaching, assessment, and student projects allows the instructors to more efficiently use time formerly dedicated to grading and assessment. Collaboration during assignments is encouraged, because even though the method to achieve the correct solution may be similar, variables in the questions allow for enough variety to provide students with individually tailored challenges. This serves to teach all students the same core material while minimizing cheating and eliminating copying. They believe that use of Maplesoft tools encourage students to think through responses, which in turn prepares them well for exams. “These tools enable an individual approach to problem solving to stimulate creative thinking and facilitate continuous learning,” said Gudowski.

Initially, there was resistance from some students who felt there was value in take-home paper assignments, with the ability to work through problems at their own pace. To address these, the school translated all of the paper take-home assignments into online content using Maple T.A., Maplesoft’s testing and assessment software that is embedded in Möbius. As a result, students were able to continue with the additional exercises in their personal time. “Digital learning tools like Maple T.A. and Möbius are an important part of the argument for effective education,” Gudowski said. “It definitely meets students’ expectations.”

Starzecki is also excited for the future potential of courseware software like Möbius that will foster greater engagement among students. “With new features in Möbius and Maple T.A., there’s room to further improve our e-learning initiatives by expanding the assignments with additional information that may be problem or approach specific,” he said. “Sometimes there are multiple ways to achieve a correct solution and it would be of great benefit to find an easily accessible place for assessment on this level.”

Gudowski and Starzecki are both convinced that if institutions want to be successful, they must include online learning as part of a long-term aggressive strategy to meet the needs of a shifting educational landscape. “We must modernize education, or die in the international and global market,” they said.


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