Saturday, March 28, 2015


Food for thought: Everything is iterative.

So much of industry, daily work, science, construction, art, history, relationships, life, every part of human existence all builds on previous information and labor. We learn how things were done in the past and we build on it and improve the methods, make a better tool, create a better paintbrush, identify flaws in the way things used to be done, and we do it better.

That's all work and career and life is all about: looking at the status quo and doing it again, and hopefully doing it a little better.

Don't let a roadblock in college stop you. Career-wise it's more about knowing how to use the tools in your field. If you can get past college and into the job, it only gets easier from there.


A related note for the engineering majors - don't let hard college math stop you. The hard stuff has already been done. Once you get into the field itself, you really won't be doing advanced math anymore (unless you want to fun - yes some people are wired that way!) for day-to-day work.

Conversation on the Engineering Commons podcast (episode 64), paraphrased:

A common question that comes up when discussing engineering is "Do you ever use calculus? (in engineering)"
Engineer #1: No, just have to sum things up and use a rough approximation,
maybe find a slope rise/run, I just plug a number into excel for a curve

Engineer #2: Not really - just have to have a working knowledge; I mostly use
reference catalogs or the sales engineer has the details/info/specs.
The employer/client wants something simple enough so that the vendor could
easily replace something or if I wasn't there someone else
could understand it - they don't want me designing complexity.

Engineer #3: not a daily basis, it comes up now and then, it's
usually all well-known problems that you just change variables on. Only if
you're pushing the boundary on new designs maybe then,
but 90% of the time engineering is redesign of existing items.
Besides getting an integral or derivative of discrete points, in
reality I used no calculus beyond junior level college classes

Engineer #4. Yes but I cheat. Any problem worth solving in industry, or
sufficiently complex or worth finding an analytical solution for,
you learn how the math works so you can go out and use
all the differential equation solvers like SPICE, etc. Do use
calculus on a daily basis but not actively participating in the
solving of calculus problems."

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