Author Archives: jeff

Why is engineering so hard to explain?

As a young engineer, I had no doubt in my mind that engineers designed things, and fixed things, and analyzed things. I never thought for a moment about the difference between engineering and science… or the difference between engineering and anything else for that matter. Yet as I set about explaining the engineering profession to […]

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A Quote from Freeman Dyson

Somewhere along the way, during the past six months or so, I saw a quote about engineers attributed to a 1979 book written by Freeman Dyson, titled Disturbing the Universe. As I am too frequently apt to do, I found a used copy listed on Amazon and had it shipped my direction. This particular book […]

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Rebooting Engineering Revision

Its been exactly three years since my last post on this blog, Engineering Revision. During that interval I finished up my PhD degree, and have spent a considerable amount of time sharing engineering knowledge in the college classroom. Teaching is a challenge that I truly enjoy, and I hope to continue improving my ability to […]

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New Podcast with Chris Gammell

[Update: The podcast has a new home at The Engineering Commons!] Chris Gammell, co-host of The Amp Hour podcast, kindly allowed me to join him in creating a podcast dedicated to engineering’s more philosophical issues. You can listen to our first session below: [Update: You can download the mp3 file directly, if you prefer not […]

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Benefits of an abstract engineering education

My prior post was critical of the abstraction-based, mathematics-heavy, and computation-focused eduction served up to today’s engineering students. It has been my experience has been that the most successful engineers in industrial practice are very hands-on, with years of practical experience, and insights that have little to do with academic equations. That’s not to say […]

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Bait and switch in engineering education

It seems that many children have never considered the possibility of an engineering career. Well-meaning programs therefore attempt to nudge students toward engineering through exposure to engineering-like projects. These activities most often involve the manipulation of physical objects, such as constructing toothpick bridges, building LEGO models, preparing for an egg drop, or working with robots. […]

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Engineering spectrum differences

In my prior post, I proposed that each engineering position requires a different level of abstraction. To a research engineer, almost everything is model-based, while the production engineer may be primarily focused on issues that are object-based. Although freshman and sophomore engineering students receive guidance as to the sub-discipline they should enter (electrical, mechanical, chemical, […]

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Along the engineering spectrum

My prior series of posts (part 1, part 2, and part 3) proposed that a common characteristic of all engineering activity was the use of abstract models to search a solution space before implementing a new method, device, or system. Engineers fill the gap between science, which seeks to generate accurate models, and manufacturing, which […]

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What engineers have in common (part 3)

(Part 1 and part 2 of this series) In my most recent post, I proposed the following definition (which I’ve slightly revised): engineer: an individual who designs novel methods, devices, or systems that can be practically implemented to meet specified constraints, or analyzes existing methods, devices, or systems for their capacity to meet such constraints, […]

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What engineers have in common (part 2)

(Part 1 of this series can be found here) In my last post, I suggested the term physineer be used to describe engineers who deal with the physical realm. These are individuals employed in the traditional engineering fields, such as chemical, electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering. To see how the responsibilities of such engineers are […]

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