Page 2 - Principles of Applied Engineering
P. 2

Chapter 1

                                   engineering as a


                            1.1    Define engineering

            engineering            The field of engineering operates under a slew of misconceptions held by the public. A
                                   modern day engineer does not operate trains; the scope of work within engineering has
                                   broadened since the early days of the hostler. Professionals in the field will likely not be
                                   found underneath our cars changing oil. Instead, engineers can be found behind the
                                   scenes of technological innovations – from the devices in our pockets capable of connect-
                                   ing us with others around the world to the composition of the rubber soles in shoes.
                                      We hear the word engineering in advertisements, tossed around as a potential
                                   career for those gifted in math and science (though one can have average math skills
                                   and still succeed), but what do we mean by engineering? The organization responsible
            accrediting            for  accrediting (or  evaluating) programs  in the field, the  Accreditation  Board for
            ABET                   Engineering and Technology (ABET), provides a definition to encompass the primary
                                   aspects of what it means to be an engineer.

                                     Engineering is defined to be a profession that draws upon knowledge of mathe-
                                     matics and science to create ways to economically use available materials and the
                                     forces of nature to benefit the human race through the process of design.

                                      Scattered through the definition are various key words and phrases which charac-
                                   terize the profession: knowledge of mathematics and science, economic use of materi-
                                   als and natural forces, benefiting the human race, and finally – design. Now, what do all
                                   of these phrases mean and how do they capture what engineering is all about?

                                   Knowledge of Mathematics and Science: Engineers are heavily trained to ensure they
                                   are proficient in mathematics and science. The typical coursework an undergraduate
                                   engineering student will face includes study in the realms of calculus and physics. The
                                   mathematical concepts and methods we learn help us solve physical problems. Rising
                                   to the call of being an engineer goes beyond mere textbook exercises; instead, it
                                   requires us to solve problems on a grander scale. As eloquently stated by Galileo
                                   Galilei, “The laws of Nature are written in the language of mathematics.” Considering
                                   that our ability to harness the natural forces around us is dependent on being able to
                                   use mathematics in a practical sense, we are trained to speak the language fluently.
                                   Economic Use of Materials and Natural Forces: Although we can theoretically sketch
                                   out plans for an extravagantly costly and wasteful project, engineers must weigh their
            criteria               options and work within specifications, often called criteria. Beyond the requirements
            constraints            set by a customer, societal or political constraints could affect the creation and imple-
                                   mentation of the project. Practically, the common limitation that engineers face is the

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