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Three Models and Engineering Analysis

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Best in 5 Minutes: Demonstrating Interactive Teaching Activities

Tagged Divisions

Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering

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Timothy Aaron Wood The Citadel Orcid 16x16

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Timothy A Wood is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel. He acquired a Bachelor's in Engineering Physics Summa Cum Laude with Honors followed by Civil Engineering Master's and Doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University. His technical research focuses on the intersection of soil-structure interaction and structural/geotechnical data. He encourages students pushing them toward self-directed learning through reading, and inspiring enthusiasm for the fields of structural and geotechnical engineering. Dr. Wood aims to recover the benefits of classical-model, literature-based learning in civil engineering education.

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A three-model framework provides a foundation and context for developing engineering analysis skills. The three models are 1) reality, 2) mental models, and 3) engineering and math models. A diagram of these models supports the engineering problem solving format (Given, Find, Procedure, Solution, Answer) and illustrates the interaction between engineering application (reality), engineering judgement (mental model), and scientific theory (engineering/math model). Engineers work with each of these models as they develop their understanding of a concept or solve a particular problem. Reality is the way the world actually works; in general, reality tends to be complex. The engineer works to shape reality, and therefore, must be a student of reality, learning how the world works through thoughtful observation. As engineers consider reality, they build mental models of how the world works. The mental model is qualitative and often intuitive. The mental model is the single greatest asset an engineer has; in the qualitative and intuitive world of the mind creativity flourishes. An engineer who wishes to communicate or refine a mental model will draw sketches or diagrams. The mental model should lead to the proper selection of an engineering/math model. Engineering/math models are often the primary focus of the formal classroom. These models are quantitative and lead to numerical predictions of various outcomes. However, engineering/math models, by nature, require simplification; the mental model must make and check the assumptions required to build a solvable engineering/math model. The engineering/math model is usually expressed using logic and mathematics; often computers facilitate numerical predictions. Active integration of the mental model and engineering/math model equips the engineer to properly shape reality.

Wood, T. A. (2020, June), Three Models and Engineering Analysis Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35387

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