Developing computer use skills for problem solving in engineering students from the rst year physics course

Usually one can ?nd three subjects in the ?rst year of the syllabus of any technical engineering career, namely, calculus, general physics and programming. Being physics a matter lying on the grounds of technical engineering it becomes naturally appropriate to introduce the use of calculus and programming as useful tools in the context of a physics problem. This can be accomplished by moving some Practical Classes of Physics (problem solving) into the computer pool and by reformulating the physics problems in order to make them more appropriate for this kind of approach. In this environment, students put together, for instance, programming tools and numerical methods, along with the physical laws in order to address more realistic models, di?erent from those which can usually be treated on the blackboard. This kind of computational physics problems increases the motivation of the engineering students by embedding them into sceneries whose models are closer to those real problems they will be facing later in their professional and scienti?c life. This is particularly relevant for the ?rst year of the engineering careers when the development of this kind of professional skills is usually skipped. In the present work we will illustrate these ideas by means of the known problem of “The motion of a body subject to air drag force”. The basic ideas of this work have been experienced in the physics course of ?rst year undergraduate students of telecommunication and electronics engineering of Pinar del R´?o University, Cuba in 2010.