Samuel Schwartz,
Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering


Joseph Cataldo,
Professor of Civil Engineering

Margarrtha Lam-Anderson,
Adjunct Instructor of Mechanical Engineering


George W. Sidebotham,
Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering


The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the practice of engineering right from the start; to show you that, in engineering, the purely technical component is but a fraction of the whole; that, fundamentally, engineering is a social activity to so cial ends. The word "engineering", grammatically, is a gerund, i.e., a verb used as a noun. It therefore denotes an "activity" like walking and thinking; not just a body of knowledge or a bag of analytical tools.

Being social not only in its purpose but in its very practice, engineering requires work in teams addressing questions with legal and economic dimensions, social and human aspects and indeed many other facets.

It therefore requires communication and collaboration with fellow team members as well as with other teams having different competencies. It requires also communication and collaboration with external agents, individuals or organizations who may have different priorities and view points.

It requires researching areas of which you know little or next to nothing, making assumptions, seeking advice, exercising judgement based on incomplete evidence or data. It requires flexibility, openness of mind and a maturity of judgement which can only be gained by starting to practice as early as you can, i.e., NOW! Like baseball, engineering can be practiced in the minor league as well as in the major league, but it requires practice . . . practice . . . practice.

A little practice on the proposed project will show that you can make substantial contributions without a high degree of technical or scientific sophistication, but you need to develop an ability to think in terms of synthesis, in addition to being able to analyze.

As Eberhardt Rechtin, a retired professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California and president emeritus of The Aerospace Corp. puts it in Spectrum, the IEEE magazine (July 1997 issue):

"The aim of synthetical thinking is to put together a single provisional and plausible concept to the point where traditional engineering analysis can begin and, as they say, the numbers can be run. Further, what makes sense depends upon which stakeholder in the project is being judged - the client, the architect, the builder, the user, the public, the government, or the media. This state of affairs is hard on most engineers, who have been taught for at least 40 years that engineering is applied science. Yet, the most difficult problems in synthesis - such as perceptions of worth, safety, affordability, and social acceptability - resist numerical expressions. The objective of synthesis is to find a reasonable match, a conclusion satisfactory to most."

To help you organize your thoughts and your work in approaching a design problem it may be useful for you to be introduced first conceptually the process of design.

This course is made up of (1) a "Guided Design" Class and (2) a CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) Class. Each Class meets 2 hours a week.

In the Guided Design portion of the course, (1) the sequence of events will be as shown on the schedule appended to the statement of the Project.

In the CAD portion of the course, (2) students will be introduced to the concepts and practice of CAD during the class period. To pass the course, students must successfully complete ALL parts of the course (i.e., Guided Design, and CAD).

  1. The text for the Guided Design part of the course is:
    DESIGN PARADIGMS - Case Histories of Error and Judgement in Engineering by Henry Petroski - Cambridge University Press 1994.

  2. (2) The text for the CAD portion of the course is:
    Current Practices for Interpreting Engineering Drawings
    By E. Maruzzi - West Publishing 1995, for sections A and C
    -or- AUTOCAD 12 for Beginners
    by Wright, Hampe, Guha - New Riders 1992, for sections B and D

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