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Introduction to Engineering: Modeling and Problem Solving

Introduction to Engineering: Modeling and Problem Solving

Jay Brockman

ISBN: 978-0-470-45718-4

Dec 2008

620 pages


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In this groundbreaking new text, Jay Brockman helps students acquire the engineering mindset, providing them with the core knowledge and skills all engineers need to succeed.   Through clear explanations and real-world examples—like how to provide water for rural communities in developing nations—Introduction to Engineering teaches students to see the world through the eyes of an engineer, looking at how engineers apply science and technology to solve problems facing society today.  Introduction to Engineering grew out of a course the author helped develop over the past decade at Notre Dame, and this approach has been field-tested and developed into a model for other schools.

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1 Engineering and Society.

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 The Engineering Method.

1.3 Networks and Systems.

1.4 Engineering Disciplines and Majors.

1.5 Engineering and Computing.


2 Organization and Representation of Engineering Systems.

2.1 WhatWe Think About HowWe Think.

2.2 Concept Maps.

2.3 Representation and Design.

2.4 Example:Water Supply for Rural Communities in Developing Nations.


3 Learning and Problem Solving.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Expertise and The Learning Process.

3.3 What Do You Know? Levels of Understanding.

3.4 Getting Good Results from Your Learning Efforts.

3.5 A Framework for Problem Solving.

3.6 How Much CO Does a Typical Passenger Car Produce?

3.7 Planning Larger Projects.

3.8 Heuristics.



4 Laws of Nature and Theoretical Models.

4.1 Engineering Models.

4.2 Evolution of Theory.

4.3 Models of Motion.

4.4 Modeling the “Spring of Air”.

4.5 The Birth of the Piston Engine.

4.6 The Science of Thermodynamics.

4.7 Conservation of Mass.

4.8 Analysis Example: The Internal Combustion Engine.

4.9 Design Example: The Handpump.


5 Data Analysis and Empirical Models.

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Theory and Data.

5.3 Empirical Models.

5.4 Using Statistics to Quantify Uncertainty.

5.5 Trade Studies: Evaluating Tradeoffs Between Design Variables.


6 Modeling Interrelationships in Systems: Lightweight Structures.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 The Statics Perspective.

6.3 The Materials Perspective.

6.4 Putting It All Together.

6.5 Example: A Trade Study of Strength versus Weight in a Truss.


7 Modeling Interrelationships in Systems: Digital Electronic Circuits.

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Computing Machines.

7.3 Digital Circuits from the Symbolic and Logical Perspective.

7.4 Digital Circuits from the Electronics Perspective.

7.5 Putting It All Together: Design of an Inverter.


8 Modeling Change in Systems.

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Predicting the Future: Accumulation of Change.

8.3 Launching a Softball.

8.4 Running Out of Gas.



9 Getting Started with MATLAB.

9.1 Your First MATLAB Session.

9.2 Examples.


10 Vector Operations in MATLAB.

10.1 Introduction.

10.2 Basic Operations.

10.3 Simple Two-Dimensional Plots and Graphs.

10.4 Statistics.


11 Matrix Operations in MATLAB.

11.1 Basic Operations.

11.2 Parameter Sweeps Over Two Variables.

11.3 Plotting 3-Dimensional Data.

11.4 Matrix Arithmetic.

11.5 Solving Systems of Linear Equations.


12 Introduction to Algorithms and Programming In MATLAB.

12.1 Algorithms, Flow Charts, and Pseudocode.

12.2 MATLAB Functions.

12.3 Conditional Selection Statements.

12.4 Loops or Repetition Statements.

12.5 Examples of Functions, Conditionals, and Loops.

12.6 Accumulation of Change.


Appendix A Problem Solving Process.

Appendix B Bloom’s Taxonomy: Levels of Understanding.

Appendix C Engineering Societies and Professional Organizations.

Appendix D Systems of Units.

D.1 The SI System.

D.2 Non-SI Units and Conversion Factors.



  • Discusses actual engineering practice to motivate students
    • General skills and training to effectively contribute to society (see ch 1)
    • Professional settings that employ engineers (see ch 1)
  • Introduces students to important conceptual ideas that support the engineering disciplines
    • Emphasizes problem-solving paradigms including a basic framework and how and when different problem-solving techniques should be employed (see ch 2, 3 and problems throughout)
    • Discusses concurrency, interdependence, and trade-offs in the development of engineering systems showing students how physical laws, economic, environmental, and user requirements interact in an engineering system—something they will address as practicing engineers.  (see ch 4)
    • Covers the modeling of systems and changes in systems familiarizes students with larger context of model-based design in which engineers actually design systems and ultimately solve problems.  Introduces simple numerical methods for modeling change in systems without assuming any background in calculus (see chs 4, 5, and 6)
  • Integrates MATLAB to build engineering problem-solving skills and MATLAB programming skills (see MATLAB appendices )