math in engineering

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by blue scarab, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. blue scarab Registered Member

    Engineering is the application of physics and chemistry as well as ingenuity to solve real world problems.

    People say mathematics is used extensively in physics and chemistry and that is why it is important

    But how much of math is actually used in science.

    Let me explain with a high school example.

    From grade 10 to 12 students do a lot of maths but most of it is not used in physics and chemistry.

    The math that is used in grade 10,11 and 12 physics and chemistry is grade 8 and 9 maths like direct and indirect proportion,basic algebra equations,changing the subject of the formula,that sort of thing

    The only grade 10-12 math used throughout these three years was one parallelogram theorem,the basic understanding of sine,cosine and tan,sine rule,cosine rules,simultaneous equations(only in rare electricity problems) and the theorem of pytharagos.

    That is it! I could have learned that in a week or two. Oh and let's not forget about logarithms.We studied a never ending stream of calculations involving logs but at the end of the day what did we need to know to find pH is to know the definition of a log and how to press the log button on a calculator.

    Let's look at some of what was not used: hyperbolas,parabolas,quadratic equations,functions,exponents,20+ geometry theorems,trigonometry identities,trig problem solving,analytical geometry,calculus,sequences and series,the list goes on and on.

    In short,only about 1 percent of the maths I learned in those three years was actually used in science so what was the point of teaching the other 99 percent.

    When I went to university I was doing a B.Sc microbial biotechnology and I was told that all life sciences and health sciences like pharmacy,physiotherapy,optometry,dentistry,occupational theapyall had to one maths/stats module which consisted of algebra,differential calculus and statistics. I never used any of that math in any of my other modules and neither did the health science students so what was the point.It only wasted my money.

    Do you see the pattern?

    I also did physics modules and none of that math was used,we only used the same tidbits of math. That was used in high school.

    So my question to engineers is how much of the math that you learned did you actually use in your engineering work.Express it as a percentage and according to topic if you can, eg: differential calculus- 10 percent
    On a side note,Michael Faraday knew only grade 6 maths and yet was one of the greatest scientists that ever lived.

    Please respond,I really need to know the answer
  2. blue scarab Registered Member

    Sorry about my spelling and grammer mistakes, I was trying to type fast.
  3. deBroglee Registered Member

    Hi there!
    I'm not an engineering student. But I think that the amount of math is depends on the type of engineering. For example, chem engineering might have less math than mechanical. Just a suggestion, maybe you can also try Physics & Math Forum in SciForums.
  4. Jishnu Registered Member

    i'm an engineering student . we use a fair amount of math . i'm learning electronics and communication engineering and we learn and use fourier series , laplace transforms etc . needless to say , complex numbers are used in ac calculations .
  5. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    I have a friend who is responsible for hiring new employees at a company that makes and installs computer actuated manufacturing assembly line systems. They require a potential new hire to possess an MS in engineering to even consider them for a position.

    He says that none of what that person learned at u will be used in their new job, but that the MS is proof that the new hire has the capacity to learn what is necessary to do the job he/she is hired to fill and the 'stick to itiveness' to follow a project through to completion.

    Mathematics describes how our world works and gives us the ability to set up situations abstractly on a computer or on paper first instead of having to build them in reality to see if they will work out as we wish. Stuff like building a bridge or an electric automobile.

    The same perspective you take on learning mathematics can be applied to exercise or eating healthy. While it may seem pointless to do, nonetheless doing so improves your overall health and your ability to live a full and productive life.

    Not everything in this space-time continuum is glaringly obvious at first glance, sometimes the profit is subtle and profound.
  6. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    If you keep taking science, you'll encounter more and more math. College physics, in particular, is going to involve all manner of calculus, and probably some linear algebra to boot. Large swaths of math were invented for the purpose of enabling physics and other sciences, after all.

    Chemistry has somewhat less math, although there's still a decent amount. Bio is even less, generally. Although any science field is going to demand you know probability and statistics really well, so there's that.

    Most engineering disciplines will involve similar levels of math to physics.

    How much math you end up using on a daily basis once you've graduated and go to work varies depending on the field and what job you get (lots of people with science and engineering degrees end up doing non-technical work, or stuff like sales/support, that is not math intensive). You may well not go around proving theorems on a daily basis, or even deriving any relations. But you can rest assured that you will need to understand math to have even gained the background required to do the jobs in the first place.

    I recall using many of those in my own high school science education, actually - definitely the stuff on quadratics and trig and exponents.

    And, again, you can be sure that you'll use calculus if you go on to college physics or engineering.

    So you can go to college.

    If you didn't use statistics then you did something wrong.

    Beyond that, algebra and differential calculus are the sorts of thing that any university graduate, in any field, should know as a matter of general education. I'd include integral calculus and prob/stat in there as well, actually.

    And that's fairly typical of the math requirements for bio science type fields, and rightly so. It isn't like they made you learn vector calculus, or linear algebra, or differential equations, or transform analysis - let alone, actual advanced math like real analysis or abstract algebra.

    That would presumably be because you took the watered-down physics courses for bio majors, and not the real-deal courses that physicists and engineers take - no?

    Pretty much all of it. In fact, most of the math I learned was taught in engineering classes. Not that I didn't take several years of courses from the math department as well, above and beyond the basic lower-division requirements.
  7. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Physical Chemistry requires 2-3 years of Calculus (depending on your starting point) to be competent in your understanding of the chemistry you're applying the math to solve. Adv Chm's going to push to you to your adv physics and adv math mental breaking point.

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