The article focuses on the symbiosis between mathematics in engineering education and problem based approaches. Traditional approaches focus on the idea to teach first basic math and establish on this basics the theoretical subjects out of the application area, e.g. theoretical foundation, theoretical physics, mechanics, etc.
The obvious benefit is the formal foundation and the structured development of the theory. The disadvantage is a delay in developing the core subject after the mathematical and physical foundations are grounded.
In the subject of technical physics at TU Wien the approach is different. The first semester consists of three different mathematics subjects, analysis, linear algebra and a subject called practical mathematics. The practical math is supplying the fourth subject with the necessary tools for understanding the basic concepts of physics.
This paper is introducing this concept in detail and analyzing the possibilities to apply this approach in engineering mathematics. The last section of the paper addresses the relation to modelling and simulation as a subject in STEM studies and points out the parallel concepts and their application.