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Q&A #1739

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Purpose of studying algebra

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From: Rob Eckert <rob_eckert@hotmail.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2004012613:00:29
Subject: Re: Re: Purpose of Algebra

Hi Kait!

I just thought that I would tell you a little bit the math that I use.
I am a structural engineer, and am now in University learning to
becaome a math teacher.  The math that I most often used as an
engineer included algebra, trigonometry and sometimes calculus.  

As an engineer I often had to solve problems, so those word problems
that you see in your math class are good practice for the real world. 
Often times though, the problems that I saw didn't always have a clear
question or clearly defined variables or knowns.  The problems could
be solved in many different ways, and the solutions that one engineer
comes up with may be quite different than what another one comes up
with.  Usually there are many solutions that are useful and "correct",
and a good engineer will come up with a number of different solutions
for his client.  The client or customer who originally hires the
engineer to solve the problem then must make some decision which
solution to use.  Then the engineer will try to help with the
decision, by providing some estimate of which choice might be the
least expensive or easiest to use.

Math is used all the time as an engineer.  Sometimes its simple
arithmetic, sometimes its algebra and sometimes its calculus.

As a new teacher I would be interested in seeing what your report had
to say about math and its usefulness.  I hope that I was able to give
you an idea how an engineer might use math and the types of math that
an eningeer might use.

Rob


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