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  #51  
Old 08-12-2018, 04:54 PM
wolly wolly is offline
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I mean an EE,ME or even a CE uses that.Why would I need to know C++ for this type of engineering?Are ships electronical?
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:33 PM
Jennshark Jennshark is offline
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I've been thinking about this thread a lot because of my own struggles. a mini rant:

I did very, very poorly in algebra and other maths beginning in sixth grade ca. 1978). I'm very happy to be an English prof but there were other careers I was also very interested in and shut out of early due to math struggles that prevented access to higher maths and sciences study.

As an adult I'm actually quite good with stats, geometry, and sophisticated financial stuff thanks to years of working with graphic design and Excel software. I pretty much gave up on numbers in sixth grade when I couldn't get explanations that connected algebra to real world applications. "But what does this formula DO?!" wasn't ever answered in a way I could understand.

For years I thought I was just really math stupid, but it turns out maybe some of it was just shitty teaching when algebra was first introduced.

Granted, I grew up pre-computer revolution and in a place and era that was just fine and dandy with the idea that girls were just bad at math -- there wasn't much incentive to really try and teach kids like me.
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Old 08-12-2018, 06:17 PM
Sloe Moe Sloe Moe is offline
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You should at least pass your math and physics subjects. Majors that don't entail much physics include mining, geodetic, chemical, and industrial. The thing is, engineering is a tough major, and aptitude in math and physics are accepted measures of one's chances of graduating.
  #54  
Old 08-12-2018, 08:36 PM
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Pork Rind Pork Rind is offline
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I mean an EE,ME or even a CE uses that.Why would I need to know C++ for this type of engineering?Are ships electronical?
I could be wrong, but I think you’re mistaken about what kind of engineer actually serves on a ship. It's not a degreed engineer; those guys stay on shore designing more ships. The engineer on a ship is more or less the head mechanic.

Last edited by Pork Rind; 08-12-2018 at 08:36 PM.
  #55  
Old 08-12-2018, 09:32 PM
Oredigger77 Oredigger77 is offline
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I'm a petroleum engineer by degree, I got my PE in mechanical engineering focusing on. HVAC and Refrigeration and i mostly design and build distilleries now.

Mostof the engineers I've know who are unhappy with engineering are that way because they wanted to be Macgyver and design and build cool things. In reality most of being an engineer is reading and writing reports with a little to a lot of math and science involved to understand the reports and to prove you're right in the reports you write. That being said I made it through the first decade of my career and never used math I didn't learn in high school and the practical knowledge i learned on the job. My opinion was engineering school was more about teaching you how to approach problems then it was about what you learned. Learning to take a big problem break it down into solvable parts look up the solution to the small problems and then put it back together to a large solution is critical to engineering.

Now, I'm in a field where there are very little off the shelf solutions which makes it more fun and when I need to custom build a still, I have to understand metallurgy, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Sure, there are books for me to look up each part but then I've got to fit the various formula together to make a mathematical model of the still and then transform that into drawings for the fabricator and then understand welding, pipefitting, and other fabrication techniques to help the fabricator make the drawings possible. All of that is to say aside from knowing that i want cross flow of the water in my tube and shell heat exchanger and what my inlet and outlet temperatures are and what my transport mediums are i don't need to understand transport or thermo to choose the correct formula and plug in the right numbers. Knowing thermo is useful so i know there is a formula out there and generally where to find it. I'm 15 years into my career and I've still never used calculus i use trig, geometry, algebra all of the time and probably spend the most time doing unit conversions.

All of that is to say depending on. The type of engineer you are problem solving is more useful than knowing math or science and really they are more about remembering that a solution might be in a given book and knowing what the words mean in that book than being able to say the three laws of thermo or why the center of mass is different than the center of inertia. You maybe faster if you don't have to look things up but knowing there is a difference and know where to find it is way more important.
  #56  
Old 08-12-2018, 11:56 PM
Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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I could be wrong, but I think youíre mistaken about what kind of engineer actually serves on a ship. It's not a degreed engineer; those guys stay on shore designing more ships. The engineer on a ship is more or less the head mechanic.
I think Pork Rind has nit the nail squarely on the head. Confusion over multiple meanings of the word "engineer".

Aside: When I was a small child I was heartbroken the day I found out that my engineer father didn't drive a train...
  #57  
Old 08-13-2018, 12:06 AM
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I mean an EE,ME or even a CE uses that.Why would I need to know C++ for this type of engineering?Are ships electronical?
Nowadays everything is.

And learning to program teaches analytical logic. Let me put you through a little exercise my first programming teacher used to start with. Think of a food you like to make.

OK, how do you go about making it? Describe all the steps involved, in the exact sequence in which you perform them.













































I've got 100Ä which say that, even if your sequence of steps was logical, it did not include "checking stocks" and, depending on whether the ingredients are available, either "change to something else for which I do have everything", "go buy what I'm missing" or "set the ingredients on the preparation area".

That ability to include the steps most people forget is one of my biggest professional assets.
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  #58  
Old 08-13-2018, 02:13 AM
EdelweissPirate EdelweissPirate is offline
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<snip>
For years I thought I was just really math stupid, but it turns out maybe some of it was just shitty teaching when algebra was first introduced.

Granted, I grew up pre-computer revolution and in a place and era that was just fine and dandy with the idea that girls were just bad at math -- there wasn't much incentive to really try and teach kids like me.
This was my experience as well, except (a) Iím male and (b) now Iím a mechanical engineer.

I failed Algebra II in high school; I had to take ďconsumer mathĒ to graduate. But then I went to a weird, small college that offers a classical liberal arts education. (For those who donít know, the classical liberal arts include mathematics). We learned calculus via Newtonís Principia (geometric ifinitesimals) and Leibnizís differential calculus (which is how modern calculus classes are taught). I was intoxicated by the idea that, given the equation for a line, one could find the exact area under that line. I was off and running.

Switching to mechanical engineering for grad school took a bit of a sales pitch to my department, but they took a chance on me and Iím grateful to them. It didnít hurt my switching experience that I had worked as a bicycle mechanic for years; bicycles are rolling galleries of simple machines.

Iím still terrible at arithmetic due to a somewhat rare learning disability, but in grad school no one minds if you do your math on a computer.

To your point, Jennshark, I was also a teaching assistant for statics, which serves as a weed-out class. I saw many more women weeded out than men. Men were more certain that they were right (especially when they werenít) and they were much more willing to argue about grades. In fact, the weed-out classes (statics, dynamics and mechanics of materials) tended to weed out anyone who didnít already seem like a conventional engineering type. Iím convinced that this costs my field some great engineers, though I canít prove it.

The conventional sink-or-swim approach yields plenty of bad engineers. I once had another mechanical engineer (with a degree from my alma mater!) argue in a meeting that stacking springs in series increases the spring rate. It does the opposite, in fact. The guy got many other basic concepts wrong. But he was a competent project manager and the stuff he worked on got done on schedule, so he remained employed.

He was a great example of the ďplug-and-chugĒ model of engineering. He didnít understand the fundamental principles well, but he looked up the right formula (usually) and got an answer.

This is anathema to me. Iím much more interested in (and much better at) the creative side of engineering, especially when itís driven by first principles. Most of the smart engineers I come across lean more towards creative problem-solving, but in my experience, people who memorize formulas without really understanding them are tolerated in the field. Itís a shame, but IMHO, itís true.
  #59  
Old 08-13-2018, 05:41 AM
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Physics is such a broad topic.

I excelled at the electronics formulas. Kirchhoff's law, Ohm's law and Joule's Law. I took a semester long class in acoustics and loved the physics behind it.

OTH I disliked studying forces, levers, and similar topics. It didn't interest me and I had to make myself study and do the lab experiments.

I had a very good career in consumer electronics before transitioning to computers.

I haven't done the other physics studies, I disliked, since college.
  #60  
Old 08-13-2018, 07:32 AM
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Is that what engineering means?Memorizing formulas without the ability to see what they do?
If that were the case, then the Engineering Professor would just hand you The Great Big Book Of Engineering Formulas on day 1 of engineering school, you'd memorize them, and in a few weeks you'd be an Engineer.

Obviously that's not the case. Take a class in an engineering subject, and the time will be devoted to teaching you the concepts involved, so that you'll develop a rudimentary analytical understanding of the phenomena at work, as well as how/when to apply various formula. The assigned homework is supposed to further sharpen your analytical understanding by forcing you to apply the classroom concepts in a variety of problem scenarios. When I took exams, the professors often allowed you to bring a "cheat sheet," on which you could write anything you wanted. So memorizing formulas wasn't exactly critical; you could write down all the formulas you wanted (often inadvertently memorizing them along the way), but if you didn't understand what was going on, they weren't going be of much use.

I'd agree with others here that calculus (esp. integral calc) is an important tool that facilitates understanding of numerous engineering/physics concepts. If you can get your head around that, then you have an important tool that can help you understand things like adiabatic heating/cooling, capacitors, springs, the bending of structural beams, torsional loading of shafts, hydrostatic forces on submerged surfaces, and lots of other engineering concepts.

You mentioned having completed high school, but you didn't mention any formal education beyond that. If you've been trying to teach yourself these subjects without formal instruction, that can be pretty difficult. A four-year engineering degree takes, oh, about four years to finish. That involves attending a few hours of class every weekday, and many hours of homework each week. I won't say engineering is easy, but you'll probably have an easier time of it if you are learning from an instructor who has experience walking people through the concepts in a logical progression, working through a selection of problems specifically selected to further enhance your understanding, and having access to fellow students with whom you can study so you can learn from each other, as well as the instructor him/herself, who can answer specific questions about the material in person during office hours.
  #61  
Old 08-13-2018, 10:30 AM
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It is not a significant asset to know a programming language. It is a significant asset to know how to program. Don't confuse the two: If you know how to program, then you can pick up the essentials of any programming language you might need very easily. But if you don't know how to program, no number of programming languages will help you.
  #62  
Old 08-13-2018, 11:11 AM
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Electrical engineering might get you away from the mechanical elements of engineering, but it will hardly get you away from the formulae. V=IR and all that jazz. But you have to deal with the right hand rule which is so much bullshit.
I'm an EE by training (but I'm working in statistical analysis-oh the paths our lives take when you're not paying attention )and it's incredibly formula driven. EEs frequently don't 'see' the results of our work in the same way that say Mechies do. You're not really 'seeing' an electromagnetic field. You know it exists. You can measure it, but frequently what you're doing is relying on the calculations to tell you what it should be and going from there or sometimes you're seeing the results of what is happening, but not really seeing what's actually causing any of it. In my opinion, EE is less intuitive than Mechanical or Civil (though they might disagree with me.) A resistor is of a certain resistance because someone told you that it was and it looks like every other resistor in the box only with some different colors on it. A lot of components are similarly just black boxes. You can certainly measure them to see what they are and what they do, but the measurements just come back as numbers. A 1 ohm resistor is a 1 ohm resistor and that is a valuable thing to know, but I'm not sure that it's an intuitive thing to understand. When you're designing a motor, you're not really seeing what's happening the same way that you do with say an Internal Combustion Engine (you cause a microexplosion which pushes against a piston.) You're wrapping wire and sending a current through it and it 'magically' moves. You may know (or hopefully know if you're an EE) that it's creating a magnetic field which is pushing against another magnetic field, but it's not something that you really observe. You calculate it - which is essentially just running formulas.

That said, if you're bad at physics, being an EE is probably not for you. If you're bad at math, then being an EE is definitely not for you. Math is really where it's at for EEs. If you're uncomfortable with basic calculus, you're not going to stand a chance when it's advanced calculus and rest assured, you'll be using it in every single class for four years, so muddling through Calc 4 for a grade ain't gonna cut it.

I have a dual degree in Computer Engineering and it's a little better for people scared of physics. There are doping levels and signals analysis that get math and physics heavy, but a lot of it is dealing with logic where you're not really creating -as an example - npn transistors, but using them to produce outcomes.
  #63  
Old 08-13-2018, 11:22 AM
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I tried understanding most of the concepts about electricity,thermodynamics,mechanics and most of them were easier to understand but the rest not so easy.Is that possible?I tried solving every problem but the problem was that I couldn't understand what the formulas meant and I memorized each of them.Is that what engineering means?Memorizing formulas without the ability to see what they do?I mean math to me is a piece of cake but when it comes to describe some phenomens or whatever they are called I just can't grasp these theorems and everything complex in electrostatics,electrodynamics,forces in body diagrams and even these chapters in AC about coils,capacitor,etc.
What do you think?Am I suited for this career?
I'm a civil engineer and I don't have the formulas memorized -- that's why we have books. But you do need to know how the formulas are used and when to apply them.

The key, I think, is you need to clarify to yourself what type of engineer you want to be. Not all engineering is spent with formulas and tables cranking out page after page of calculations.

I used to design highways. I did a lot of drafting and designing to the limits proscribed in our design manuals. There was no new design concepts which required a lot of calculations and research -- it was all done on the manuals we used.

I've never had to use Calculus, and really, until I got into my current position I wasn't even using physics. Statics, dynamics, circuit design, geotech... all classes I had to take, and all classes I've never had to use. Hell, the last time I used most of the stuff I learned in college was for the PE exam.

Now, there are areas of engineering where you are going to be dealing with those concepts, and need to have a good grasp of the principles. Thankfully, there is a wide range of engineering fields out there, even under the label of a civil engineer.

You need to determine what you like doing, and see how you would fit into that. You don't want to hate the background material, get into the field anyway, and discover 10 years later you hate everything about your job.

My college offered a "Shadow an Engineer" day. For a week, students would visit various engineering firms and see just what they did for a day. It helps give students a better idea of where their degree can lead, and helps shape what you want to do. Try and get a summer job with a firm, or even a public works agency, and learn what they do. Even short unpaid internships can be helpful. You may find that yes, you can see a career in engineering even with your own difficulties, or it may clarify that this world isn't for you.
  #64  
Old 08-13-2018, 11:37 AM
ZonexandScout ZonexandScout is offline
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I don't want this to seem like a hijack, but I can't miss the opportunity to toss in a comment re this timely thread.

I am not an engineer. Last Saturday evening, I spent about five hours with six accident reconstruction engineers (MSMEs, PEs, and even a PhD). We were checking in-cab camera systems by simulating vehicle traffic in a large truck depot.

When I showed up, the first thing they asked me was, "Do you happen to have a notebook or pad?" Of course, I did, but nobody else had thought about bringing one. Next, they couldn't figure out how to hold a cardboard target with test lines and colors in place. I happened to have a portable dry erase board in my car (I teach classes every so often), so we used that and it was ideal as a support. Again, it never occurred to any of them that we would need to put it up in a fixed location. Turns out that I was the only one to bring a camera tripod, a power source to recharge their equipment, pens, bottled water (it was hot and sunny in the lot), and a good-quality DSLR camera. They also hadn't figured out how to test the reliability of the timing on the cameras. I had a laptop with a (free) stop-watch display application that worked great for this purpose. We just placed it on the hood of the truck.

They are great people and I really like working with them, but I plan my trips to the grocery store better than they planned this testing session.

(My apologies to all engineers who DO plan better for such things.)

Last edited by ZonexandScout; 08-13-2018 at 11:39 AM.
  #65  
Old 08-13-2018, 11:58 AM
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If you decide to get an engineering degree, the odds are actually quite slim that you'll ever need to use anything that you learned in your undergraduate physics coursework for your job, ever.

Same goes for calculus and nearly all of the other subjects you studied as well.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:10 PM
Jennshark Jennshark is offline
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This was my experience as well, except (a) Iím male and (b) now Iím a mechanical engineer.

I failed Algebra II in high school; I had to take ďconsumer mathĒ to graduate. But then I went to a weird, small college that offers a classical liberal arts education. (For those who donít know, the classical liberal arts include mathematics). We learned calculus via Newtonís Principia (geometric ifinitesimals) and Leibnizís differential calculus (which is how modern calculus classes are taught). I was intoxicated by the idea that, given the equation for a line, one could find the exact area under that line. I was off and running.

Switching to mechanical engineering for grad school took a bit of a sales pitch to my department, but they took a chance on me and Iím grateful to them. It didnít hurt my switching experience that I had worked as a bicycle mechanic for years; bicycles are rolling galleries of simple machines.

Iím still terrible at arithmetic due to a somewhat rare learning disability, but in grad school no one minds if you do your math on a computer.

To your point, Jennshark, I was also a teaching assistant for statics, which serves as a weed-out class. I saw many more women weeded out than men. Men were more certain that they were right (especially when they werenít) and they were much more willing to argue about grades. In fact, the weed-out classes (statics, dynamics and mechanics of materials) tended to weed out anyone who didnít already seem like a conventional engineering type. Iím convinced that this costs my field some great engineers, though I canít prove it.

The conventional sink-or-swim approach yields plenty of bad engineers. I once had another mechanical engineer (with a degree from my alma mater!) argue in a meeting that stacking springs in series increases the spring rate. It does the opposite, in fact. The guy got many other basic concepts wrong. But he was a competent project manager and the stuff he worked on got done on schedule, so he remained employed.

He was a great example of the ďplug-and-chugĒ model of engineering. He didnít understand the fundamental principles well, but he looked up the right formula (usually) and got an answer.

This is anathema to me. Iím much more interested in (and much better at) the creative side of engineering, especially when itís driven by first principles. Most of the smart engineers I come across lean more towards creative problem-solving, but in my experience, people who memorize formulas without really understanding them are tolerated in the field. Itís a shame, but IMHO, itís true.
It's good to hear from a STEMy person that not everyone started life as a wiz. While raw talent is, of course, important in some fields, I do think many people with cultivatible maths/sciences aptitude are stopped from succeeding by really poor teaching and weeding practices.

It goes the other way as well. A stereotype amongst humanities academia is that engineers are poor writers; the stereotype exists because it is often true. I've long lobbied to offer undergrad comp-lit courses geared toward engineering majors -- I think teaching writing skills in a manner that engages "engineering think" could work. (An aside: roughly 75% of serious plagiarism cases I've had to report are students majoring in engineering. I've fairly good ideas why this is, but will cease further highjacking).

Academics themselves propagate deep divides. STEM professors think their humanities counterparts work in imaginary fields; Humanities views STEMmers as having no intellectual imagination. These are silly and damaging binary attitudes that get handed down to our students.

At any rate, in addition to teaching I now handle learning standard assessment and statistical reporting to state and Federal accreditors. I'm really good at it despite failing college stats twice. 8 )
  #67  
Old 08-13-2018, 12:42 PM
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If you decide to get an engineering degree, the odds are actually quite slim that you'll ever need to use anything that you learned in your undergraduate physics coursework for your job, ever.

Same goes for calculus and nearly all of the other subjects you studied as well.
I have to disagree. You may not need to recall how to do integrals by hand, but the concepts taught in those classes are vital for most fields of engineering.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:10 PM
Dorjšn Dorjšn is offline
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If you decide to get an engineering degree, the odds are actually quite slim that you'll ever need to use anything that you learned in your undergraduate physics coursework for your job, ever.

Same goes for calculus and nearly all of the other subjects you studied as well.
This couldn't be further from the truth.

Engineering, all types, is basically applied math and science. Physics is pretty much the basic, baseline course in using math and science concepts and applying them to "solve" things. If you want to be an engineer, I highly suggest you learn to love physics, or at least become competent in it.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:17 PM
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So did the engineers who built the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, I'm thinking. LOL
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:34 PM
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This couldn't be further from the truth.
What physics do you actually use at work? What calculus problems do you solve? Which differential equations? What thermodynamics?

Engineers typically use commercial software to design things, not formulas from college textbooks.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:11 PM
Sloe Moe Sloe Moe is offline
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What physics do you actually use at work? What calculus problems do you solve? Which differential equations? What thermodynamics?

Engineers typically use commercial software to design things, not formulas from college textbooks.
Now this is strange. I know most engineering problems can be solved by simple algebra and a handful of constants. But challenging the need for physics and more advanced math? What commercial software will you tap to tell you how much rock ballast you need to dump into a collapsed drain tunnel in order to keep river water from flowing into people's basements?

What program will tell you the fastest way to block a breach in the dam?
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Old 08-14-2018, 12:57 AM
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What physics do you actually use at work? What calculus problems do you solve? Which differential equations? What thermodynamics?

Engineers typically use commercial software to design things, not formulas from college textbooks.
St. Patrick, save us from the 'engineers' who rely upon "commercial software" to do their thinking for them.

Analysis codes can do some very impressive simulations of problems far too complex for hand calculation, but they require correct inputs and critical assessment of results to be validated, and that often mean running and assessing test cases against basic scientific and engineering principles to assure that we are getting reasonable results. The people who rely on "commercial software" to give them unquestionably correct results without validation are begging for failure. And yes, I've used calculus, differential equations, and fundamental thermodynamics in work. That these were all done with the aid of simulation tools (Matlab/Simulink and Python/NumPy/SciPy) does not excuse me from understanding how the underlying code works, and what assumptions and limitations it has in producing accurate results.

Stranger
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:58 AM
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Now this is strange. I know most engineering problems can be solved by simple algebra and a handful of constants. But challenging the need for physics and more advanced math? What commercial software will you tap to tell you how much rock ballast you need to dump into a collapsed drain tunnel in order to keep river water from flowing into people's basements?
Not just that, but you need a very intuitive understanding of physics to know how to apply that algebra and constants. The math isn't the hard part. The hard part is reducing the engineering problem down to a physics problem (i.e. knowing what laws are applicable and how), and then reducing that down to a math problem.
  #74  
Old 08-14-2018, 10:32 AM
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Well I like the fact that in naval engineering you can become a ship captain and explore the world.I always liked that.
Naval engineers design, build, and maintain the ships. As far as I know a ship's captain is another entirely different line of work, but I am always open to being corrected by those in the know.
  #75  
Old 08-14-2018, 10:36 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Naval engineers design, build, and maintain the ships. As far as I know a ship's captain is another entirely different line of work, but I am always open to being corrected by those in the know.
Maybe the engineer gets to act as captain while the captain and first officer beam down to the planet?
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:46 PM
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I'm an EE by training (but I'm working in statistical analysis-oh the paths our lives take when you're not paying attention )and it's incredibly formula driven. EEs frequently don't 'see' the results of our work in the same way that say Mechies do. You're not really 'seeing' an electromagnetic field. You know it exists. You can measure it, but frequently what you're doing is relying on the calculations to tell you what it should be and going from there or sometimes you're seeing the results of what is happening, but not really seeing what's actually causing any of it. In my opinion, EE is less intuitive than Mechanical or Civil (though they might disagree with me.) A resistor is of a certain resistance because someone told you that it was and it looks like every other resistor in the box only with some different colors on it. A lot of components are similarly just black boxes. You can certainly measure them to see what they are and what they do, but the measurements just come back as numbers. A 1 ohm resistor is a 1 ohm resistor and that is a valuable thing to know, but I'm not sure that it's an intuitive thing to understand. When you're designing a motor, you're not really seeing what's happening the same way that you do with say an Internal Combustion Engine (you cause a microexplosion which pushes against a piston.) You're wrapping wire and sending a current through it and it 'magically' moves. You may know (or hopefully know if you're an EE) that it's creating a magnetic field which is pushing against another magnetic field, but it's not something that you really observe. You calculate it - which is essentially just running formulas.

[...]
Responding to the bolded bit. I agree. The physics of electricity were completely unintuitive to me. My vague remembrance of the electricity portion of my physics course is mostly struggling to understand the right hand rule. Which, I reiterate, is so much bullshit.

As a chemical engineer, our professors gave us some strategy for taking the Fundamentals Exam for engineering, which includes questions from the entire range of engineering fields. When we got to an electrical question, it's anything more complicated than V=IR, pick an answer and move on. Our time would be better spent thinking about literally any other field of engineering. My EE friends got the same advice about any chemistry questions. Neither field is one you have a good chance of guessing at without a decent background.
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:55 PM
HookerChemical HookerChemical is offline
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What physics do you actually use at work? What calculus problems do you solve? Which differential equations? What thermodynamics?

Engineers typically use commercial software to design things, not formulas from college textbooks.
Oddly enough, I use government developed software more than commercial packages. Which brings me to another quirk of the field: the computer language I encounter most is FORTRAN. Java is a very distant second. You won't know which languages you might encounter in college, so developing an understanding of how computer languages work is more important than learning a language. Even then, Java and FORTRAN are very different beasts.
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:03 PM
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Engineer without physics? Drive a train.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:07 PM
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Naval engineers design, build, and maintain the ships. As far as I know a ship's captain is another entirely different line of work, but I am always open to being corrected by those in the know.
See, that's the part that I'd like OP to return to discuss. I'm reasonably convinced at this point that he has a ship's engineer confused with a naval engineer and is all wrapped around the axle about nothing.
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:30 AM
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Of course you need to know physics. Take Patch's example of designing highways, for instance. His design manual probably included a table for how much bank angle to put in for a turn of a given radius of curvature at a given speed. OK, so you see what the speed limit is in the state you're working in, you measure the radius of curvature, and you find your bank angle, no problem.

Except that now the state legislature goes and increases all the speed limits, and when your book was published, the highest speed limits were 65, so all the tables go up to 75, but now you have to find the bank for an 85 MPH road. Did the manual include a formula for you, too? Even if they did, you have to understand the formula well enough to be able to use it, and if they didn't, you have to re-derive it.

Except also, this isn't a section of freeway you're designing; this is an entrance ramp. Different cars will accelerate at different rates, so now you need your curve to accommodate a range of speeds. Which means you need to know the friction between the tires and the road, under the worst conditions.

And maybe the curvature and range of possible speeds are such that there is no one safe bank angle: In low-friction conditions like a rainstorm, maybe the slow cars are sliding out of control inward, while the fast cars are sliding out of control outward. So now you've got to make some other change to the design. Increasing the radius of curvature? That might work, but now you've got to consider the price of land there, which you're definitely not going to find in your printed tables in your manual. Or maybe there's something you can do to the roadway surface that will increase friction: How much will that cost, compared to the cost of buying more land? How well will it hold up: Will it need to be re-surfaced every year to continue to work?

And let's say that you want to mitigate the increased cost of the larger-radius ramp. You could look into ways to use that circle of land inside the ramp, so it's not a complete waste. And you could also notice that, while speeds vary, people are still going to be going faster on the freeway end than on the street end, and design it with a varying radius of curvature. Now you're definitely going to be using calculus.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:45 AM
EdelweissPirate EdelweissPirate is offline
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See, that's the part that I'd like OP to return to discuss. I'm reasonably convinced at this point that he has a ship's engineer confused with a naval engineer and is all wrapped around the axle about nothing.
The OP isnít the only one confused about this. As mentioned previously, because the maritime world typically uses ďengineerĒ to refer to a shipís head mechanic, people who design ships are typically called naval architects. But that title is almost a shibboleth, because few who are not naval architects are familiar with the term ďnaval architect.
  #82  
Old 08-15-2018, 10:18 AM
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EEs frequently don't 'see' the results of our work in the same way that say Mechies do. You're not really 'seeing' an electromagnetic field. You know it exists. You can measure it, but frequently what you're doing is relying on the calculations to tell you what it should be and going from there or sometimes you're seeing the results of what is happening, but not really seeing what's actually causing any of it.
But surely you can visualize the electricity flow through a circuit just by looking at schematics. You may not know the exact frequency of an oscillator circuit just by looking at the component values, but you can visualize the electrons flowing back and forth, charging this capacitor and being pushed along by that inductor, etc. And you know intuitively if increasing this resistor would lower the oscillator frequency, or removing that capacitor would increase the ripple, etc. I think these are the things you take away from physics & engineering courses. Of course you'd use formulas or simulators to fine-tune the component values, but without this level of intuitive understanding, you can't even begin to design something.

Last edited by scr4; 08-15-2018 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:35 AM
Jim Peebles Jim Peebles is offline
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When I was in college, I heard numerous engineering students saying they hate physics. And I would be shocked if there is an engineering job out there where the employee is solving a physics problem with paper and pencil. If computer software is used, I bet it already has all the physics encoded in it. Can anyone dispell my notions? Is anyone here an engineer that is doing paper and pencil physics, or coding software on their own which would require the same sort of skills?
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:36 AM
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When I was in college, I heard numerous engineering students saying they hate physics. And I would be shocked if there is an engineering job out there where the employee is solving a physics problem with paper and pencil. If computer software is used, I bet it already has all the physics encoded in it. Can anyone dispell my notions? Is anyone here an engineer that is doing paper and pencil physics, or coding software on their own which would require the same sort of skills?
"Paper & pencil vs. computer" is a false dichotomy. What's needed is an intuitive understanding of physics. IMHO that is really the point of physics classes - to learn to see the world through physics, so you don't even need the formulas. Engineers need to be so familiar with physics that their calculation (whether it's done with paper and pencil or computer) is just a way to confirm their intuition and make it more precise. If you try to solve each problem by plugging it into a formula, you will make a mistake.
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:10 PM
Jim Peebles Jim Peebles is offline
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"Paper & pencil vs. computer" is a false dichotomy. What's needed is an intuitive understanding of physics. IMHO that is really the point of physics classes - to learn to see the world through physics, so you don't even need the formulas. Engineers need to be so familiar with physics that their calculation (whether it's done with paper and pencil or computer) is just a way to confirm their intuition and make it more precise. If you try to solve each problem by plugging it into a formula, you will make a mistake.
Are you saying the true dichotomy is formula calculation versus intuition? Then why do engineering students primarily work with paper and pencil at a school desk? Wouldn't it be better preparation to have them primarily physically building and testing prototypes? Would that be too expensive and time consuming for most schools, so instead they do paper and pencil?
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:13 PM
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Most of my chemistry research involved using computer programs for different purposes. The computer did the number crunching, but in order to be able to interpret the results I still needed to understand the chemistry, physics and math. My undergrad thesis involved comparing two sets of mathematical algorithms which could be used to simulate different calculus (statistics) equations computationally: one of the comparisons boiled down to "btw, these two happen to be the same, see here: [mathematical reordering of one of the two algorithms produced the other one]."

And Jim, model building is also what the computers do. But with less materials and quicker - if the math is available. Antoni GaudŪ did the things he did through the use of models because he didn't have the mathematical power to describe what he needed in reasonable amounts of time. If he'd had a modern supercomputer? I doubt anybody alive nowadays can even begin to imagine what kind of stuff he would have come up with.
Also, doing things "the old fashioned way" is what teaches people that intuitive understanding.

Last edited by Nava; 08-15-2018 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:54 PM
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Are you saying the true dichotomy is formula calculation versus intuition?
That, plus reducing the problem down to the math vs. solving the math. Computer models are becoming more sophisticated, but they are still simplified representations of the systems you are designing. You need a good understanding of the physics to build a useful model, and interpret the results. I've worked with some engineers who rely too much on computers, and don't realize it when their models are grossly inaccurate - putting too much detail where it doesn't matter, and erroneously removing things that are significant. (I once had a thermal engineer do thermal modeling of an instrument that goes on the International Space Station. He modeled the radiative input from the Sun and Earth correctly, but decided to ignore radiative input from the rest of the Station. Of course it made a huge difference after I had him add it to the model.)



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Then why do engineering students primarily work with paper and pencil at a school desk?
Because deriving equations and solving them by hand is a good way to understand them.
  #88  
Old 08-15-2018, 01:56 PM
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Meh. We engineers are notorious for bad spelling and grammar. You're lucky if you get a coherent sentence out of us. Lack of proper punctuation use is definitely not an impediment to an engineering career.
I love you, man ...

The OP will have to complete a year of college English ... and several humanity classes, liberal arts classes, some history ... all of which will require writing essays at the college level ... I'm going to strongly suggest bringing up your written communications skills before you start college ...

I admire you for considering a career in the US Navy ... like any job it has it's ups and downs and you get a nice retirement early in life ... being a captain of a warship requires leadership skills, something to look at developing while you're in college ... I wish you the best with physics, and remember the old axiom "If it's stationary, differentiate it; if it's moving, integrate it" ...

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Old 08-15-2018, 02:32 PM
Jim Peebles Jim Peebles is offline
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Actual engineers: how much is Mythbusters like being an engineer? Watching that, they rarely do paper and pencil calculations, and always kind of joke about how heady it is when they do. If it is like an engineering job, maybe the OP could get an idea from watching that. (Alas, I suspect most actual engneering jobs involve sitting in front of a computer, and Mythbusters would be kind of a pipe dream for an engineer.)

Last edited by Jim Peebles; 08-15-2018 at 02:33 PM.
  #90  
Old 08-15-2018, 09:54 PM
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If physics is tough, maybe your math is weak.

Math is important everywhere, and it does underpin a lot of how we understand and describe the universe.

What is it about engineering you like? What branches? What do you like in geberal?
  #91  
Old 08-15-2018, 10:06 PM
sps49sd sps49sd is offline
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The OP isnít the only one confused about this. As mentioned previously, because the maritime world typically uses ďengineerĒ to refer to a shipís head mechanic, people who design ships are typically called naval architects. But that title is almost a shibboleth, because few who are not naval architects are familiar with the term ďnaval architect.
USN nuclear engineers- the shipboard ones- generally do have serious engineering degrees, but there are also oceanographers and humanities majors.

NAVSEA has engineers and naval architechs, but I only encountered engineers (who really knew their shit) from NAVSEA-08.

Naval and merchant captains don't get to see that much of the world. They go from place to place as told; the Navy guys get to spend months out of sight of anything except water.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:11 PM
sps49sd sps49sd is offline
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Actual engineers: how much is Mythbusters like being an engineer? Watching that, they rarely do paper and pencil calculations, and always kind of joke about how heady it is when they do. If it is like an engineering job, maybe the OP could get an idea from watching that. (Alas, I suspect most actual engneering jobs involve sitting in front of a computer, and Mythbusters would be kind of a pipe dream for an engineer.)
The Mythbusters (I loved it when they did stuff on Treasure Island) did most calculating off camera. Because it is boring. They do fun stuff. Most engineering can be satisfying, but fun is where you find it.

The engineers I now work with come in two types- those who think their desk is their work location, and those who go and check out jobsites before, during, and commissioning jobs. Well, we also have ones who would be fired from commercial employ.
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