Author Archives: jeff

What do engineers have in common?

While I see many articles concerning new initiatives in STEM education, relatively little is said about the types of duties that engineers perform in the workplace. Any design process has to begin with certain constraints on the finished product, and it seems to me that an informed choice of curriculum and educational methods should begin […]

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Refocusing Engineering Revision

When I started this blog two years ago, I was convinced there had to be a better way for students to learn engineering concepts. Having professors talk monotonously at an overhead screen while showing page after page of convoluted equations offers, at best, a modicum of useful insight into how one would go about solving […]

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Building Sandcastles

As a life-long Midwesterner, I haven’t spent a lot of time on the beach. However, I managed to build enough sandcastles during my youth to know that hours of effort can quickly disappear underneath the waves of a rising tide. No matter how beautiful the structure, how perfect its lines and curves, it stands no […]

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Bringing Ustream and Justin.tv back to life

Tried to watch the Make: Live! webcast about the Arduino this evening, but was unable to view the video stream on my computer. All I got was a black screen. Tried viewing the webcast directly from the Ustream site, but still got nothing. Marching through the standard troubleshooting steps, I removed all script blockers and […]

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Making Beamer Better

I use Beamer a lot for presentations, and I’ve gotten pretty good at the editing cycles that it requires. Unlike in PowerPoint, Beamer doesn’t allow me to simply click and drag an object to a new spot. Rather, to move something on the slide, I have to edit the LaTeX code, entering a command like […]

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When to introduce the matrix exponential?

In the study of linear systems, a familiar relationship is the homogeneous state-space equation , where is an -vector, and is an matrix. The time-invariant solution, (i.e., when is a constant matrix), is . When this subject is first introduced, the solution is often assumed, rather than derived. The thinking is that since the solution […]

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Getting Inkscape to play nicely with PSfrag

While browsing through some of the old TeXtip posts on Twitter, I was reminded of the possibility of using Inkscape to generate LaTeX-compatible illustrations. Given the vast amount of cruft that Illustrator includes in its EPS files, this sounded like it might be a good alternative. However, Inkscape seems to be having some of the […]

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Getting Illustrator to play nicely with PSfrag

When creating diagrams for inclusion in a Beamer presentation, I used to use the drawing package in Open Office. Then I could use PSfrag to replace drawing text with text rendered in in [latex]\LaTeX[/latex]. This made all the symbols in the presentation match symbols on the diagram. Alas, I am no longer able to make […]

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Adding MathJax to WordPress

If your blog is hosted on WordPress.com, you can already render mathematical equations using LaTeX code (at least, that is my understanding). However, since I run WordPress on my own server, I would have to add a bit of software to produce similar results. A long time ago I tried using jsMath to generate math […]

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Mathematicians write like novelists

As I attempt to teach myself something about stochastic calculus, I have been reading a great many articles, and several textbooks, on the subject. It has left me with the distinct notion that mathematicians hate to spill the plot too early in the story. Each proof builds upon clues that have been scattered throughout the […]

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