Wednesday May 17, 2006

Tablets for Engineers

The University of Dayton will pilot tablet personal computers in the School of Engineering. Tablet computers allow students to write formulas on the screen and even sketch diagrams.

The University of Dayton will pilot a new notebook computer option for engineering students this fall -- a tablet personal computer that allows students to write formulas on the screen and even sketch diagrams.

"We see this as just a tremendous educational tool for engineering majors," said David Wright, director of curriculum innovation and e-learning at the University of Dayton. "The tablet PC allows students and faculty to write symbols, formulas and other information directly on the screen -- something they can't do with a keyboard."

Joseph Saliba, dean of the School of Engineering, agrees: "This will allow students to discuss engineering plans and drawings interactively in a team environment and liberate them from the drudgery of taking notes."

Most incoming engineering students have selected the tablet PC to meet the University of Dayton's notebook computer requirement. During the summer, faculty will be offered training sessions on the use of tablet PCs. If next year's pilot program is successful, all incoming engineering students in 2007 will purchase tablet PCs.

In addition, the School of Engineering has received a $69,000 Technology for Teaching grant from Hewlett-Packard that includes 20 tablet personal computers and other equipment and $15,000 for curriculum development. UD will use the grant to redesign an upper-level distance learning course in engineering technology for use on tablet PCs. Teams currently collaborate on class projects using pen and paper. This technology will allow them to work together online at the same time during the creative process.

"This grant will help us to prepare students for manufacturing in a global environment. We are studying how to more effectively remove geographic boundaries for engineering design teams," said Chuck Edmonson, associate professor and program coordinator of industrial engineering technology.

The University of Dayton was selected as one of 40 two- and four-year colleges and universities nationwide to receive the 2006 HP Technology for Teaching grant, which is designed to transform and improve learning in the classroom through innovative uses of technology.

Contact Joseph Saliba at (937) 229-2736, David Wright at (937) 229-4604 and Chuck Edmonson at (937) 229-2853.