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A Hybrid Conceptual/Symbolic/Numerical Course Of Mechanical Engineering Analysis

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.18.1 - 1.18.8



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Pau-Chang Lu

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A Hybrid Conceptual/Symbolic/Numerical Course of Mechanical Engineering Analysis Pau-Chang Lu

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Introduction As an important part oft he recently re-vitalized Mechanical Engineering Chu-riculurn at the IJniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln, the traditional computational course (using 130 R,- TRAN exclusively) for mechanical engineering juniors is replaced by a new one of ME- CHANICAL ENGINEERING ANALYSIS. This new course is updated (and upgraded) from the old in two ways: (1) ~omputerizecl symbolic rnanipulat ion (using MAPLE or the like) is incorporated, complementing the traditional numerical analysis via FORTRAN. (2) As an even more significant move, conceptual model-building and analysis (NOrl at all computer-aided) are re-introduced. While the inclusion of MAPLE (or other similar packages) is representative of the current trend, and to be expected; the re-emphasis of “PRE-GOMPUTER’ conceptual analysis (accounting for a major portion of the course content) may need further delibera- tion. This article, then, aims mainly at airing our views on this practice; at the same time we also argue for an INTEGRATED and fresh employment of conceptual, symbolic, and numerical analysis in the course. It is thus hoped that fellow instructors might be induced to share their opinions on these points. It is also hoped that, by reporting our experiences in the design, organization, and delivery of the course cent ent, we might encourage the inclusion of similarly designed courses in other curricllla across the country. In the more detailed description that follows, we do not wish to unduly draw attention to the specifics (such as exactly what topics are included, in what sequence, in what form, etc. ). On the contrary, we wish to convey here the general spirit and philosophy behind the design. A detailed course outline or synopsis, although available from the author, will not be described here. Mot iv-at ion The original decision to devote a large portion of the class time to conceptual mod& and classical analysis, avoiding all computer aids in this phase, followed the belief that we are now acutely in need of a large dose of antidote in modern engineering education against over-application of artificial (or virtual) intelligence. While the present author himself has been constantly developing software packages with elements of artificial intel- ligence, he is keenly aware (as many others are) that KNOWLEDGE (in clear contrast against information) can not be transmitted in a totally virtual and passive fashion! Our student body lately is observed to manifest the following symptoms: They no longer cul- tivate the habit of thinking and reasoning; they lack the ability to formulate engineering problems in mathematical terms; they have a very limited vocabulary in both mathemat-

+iii-’ } 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘..+,~l~.?

Lu, P. (1996, June), A Hybrid Conceptual/Symbolic/Numerical Course Of Mechanical Engineering Analysis Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6091

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