
Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Posted:
Nov 16, 1997 4:51 PM


As an exphysicist I wholly second the quote below, which I consider the most important part of your mail:
> You can't see the connections between engineering problems > if you haven't first been exposed to the problems. In my personal > experience early exposure to really valuable mathematics is somewhat > wastedI did not have the engineering experience to see where that > mathematics would apply. I did not really appreciate higher math until > after I had practiced for a whilea situation you find yourself now.
I have seen numerous times similar situations. Personally I think that learning much math is a 'leap of faith'  you have to _trust_ your lecturers that it really will be necessary one day. Plus  you do not really know what of they tell you is important and _how_ it is important. During my course I was initially exposed to 'too much' mathematics. Then we went into physics  which required _different_ mathematics than taught in the 'pure maths course'. Later then I had to _relearn_ parts of maths from the pure maths course  because it was necessary. I wasn't alone in this  at least 80% of my friends had exactly the same opinion. The only good thing about all these was that we learnt very quickly that you can pick up any maths you need  if you have to.
So there is a delicate balance between what and _when_ to study. As one of my lecturers  a pure mathematician, strangely enough  said: this (series of lectures) is not to make you into mathematicians, but to give you mathematical _culture_, so later you can go on your own.
Perry Stout <pwstout@pacbell.net> wrote in article <346E6F3C.6AEE@pacbell.net>... > kdieudonX@spacey.net wrote: > > > > As an electrical engineer with a BS, I'm frustrated by not knowing all the > > math I need to fully grasp the theories involved in many areas of my job. > > [snip] My question is basically this: I have > > heard it said from the engineering side that mathematicians are not worthy > > of as much respect as engineers because what they learn is far afieldeven > > the applied math being somewhat suspect. Still, isn't it better to learn > > the math first and apply it later? [snip] I ask because I am considering > > leaning more toward math and less toward engineering in my future education. > > Engineering education is a balance between a large number of competing > interests. Degreed engineers are a "product" that universities and > colleges produce and engineering firms "purchase". Therefore engineering > education is structured mainly to prepare you to function successfully > in the engineering workplace. To that end, you are exposed to courses in > the natural sciences (chemistry, physics), pure mathematics (calculus, > differential equations, vector analysis), applied mathematics (circuits, > statics, dynamics) and direct practice (programming, drawing, design). > For the most part, everyone is relatively happy with the formula. > > Obviously there are deep connections between various topics in > engineering, and the fundamental language used to explore those > connections is mathematics. In my experience the more mathematics you > know the more connections you see, which leads to a greater capability > to solve engineering problems. > > So you should study more mathematics first, right? > > Probably not! You can't see the connections between engineering problems > if you haven't first been exposed to the problems. In my personal > experience early exposure to really valuable mathematics is somewhat > wastedI did not have the engineering experience to see where that > mathematics would apply. I did not really appreciate higher math until > after I had practiced for a whilea situation you find yourself now. > > You sound like a candidate for an advanced degree. Good luck! > > Perry Stout > pwstout@pacbell.net >

