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ODU’s Lee-Thomas, Nguyen Part of NSF-Funded Multi-University Project in STEM Education

Two Old Dominion University faculty members are participants in a multi-university project aimed at ensuring all students have access to learning materials for math and engineering courses.

The effort, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the tune of more than $1 million, includes work by ODU's Gwen Lee-Thomas, assistant professor of higher educational leadership, whose research interests include change management models in higher education leadership, and Duc Nguyen, professor of civil engineering and an expert in complex parallel computing.

Lee-Thomas and Nguyen have acted as co-principal investigators for NSF-collaborative grants relating to STEM education, which have been included under the research effort led by Autur Kaw, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of South Florida.

Kaw's research involves the creation of a free, open courseware resource known as Holistic Numerical Methods.

Available to students across the globe, the jam-packed site offers video lectures, simulations, textbook chapters, PowerPoint presentations, multiple-choice tests and worksheets to learn concepts in numerical methods (an approach that allows scientists and engineers to arrive at approximate solutions for mathematical models of problems they can't solve exactly or that would take too long to solve). The popular website posted a million page views in 2011.

Nguyen is also co-author, with Kaw and Egwu Kalu of Florida A&M University, of the 2010 textbook "Numerical Methods with Applications," which has been made available via Holistic Numeral Methods.

The research team operated under the belief that computer technology offered a gateway to sharing quality information freely. In the decade since Kaw first launched the concept, ODU researchers have contributed expertise ranging from algorithm creation to study of the paradigm shift in higher education that can allow such an innovation to flourish. Research partners from Arizona State University, Florida A&M University and the Milwaukee School of Engineering have also contributed to the project.

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