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Math you actually use on the job

Math you actually use on the job

(OP)
I wanted to know what math classes are regularly used in your particular job and field. So if you were say for instance a pilot/aerospace engineer and you plot vectors, indicate that. What Classes in college were particularly helpful? which ones do you wish you payed more attention to or spent more time in because of its heavy use in your job. Please don't provide blanket responses such as well i use all of it on a regular basis, because i know that's crap.

RE: Math you actually use on the job

The single most valuable class I ever took was Personal Typing, in high school.
Geometry, also from high school, comes in second, because I use a lot of geometric constructs in CAD.
Trigonometry, also from high school, is often useful when doing measurement and ad hoc design in the field.

I have used a litle calculus from time to time, but not often.

I used Newton's Method a lot, after electronic calculators became available, until Excel learned how to do it.

Engineering math goes way beyond vectors, not because you'll use esoteric stuff much, but so you'll be able to recognize when you need to crack open one of your old textbooks, and so you'll remember which one you need to find.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Math you actually use on the job

The most complicated math at the moment is trig, which is used to determine angles and things like that. Otherwise, it's Calculus BC, which is what I need to help with my son's homework.

Unless you are working on writing your own simulation codes, that's pretty much it, I think. There are tools for most math problems that engineers come across, like Mathcad, Matlab, Mathematica, etc.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Math you actually use on the job

I use fourier transforms regularly, I had to solve a double integral once. Most of my maths is statistics which goes somewhat beyond university, although the more I do of it the simpler my approach tends to be, the basic assumptions of 'advanced' stats (normality) are rarely met. I do a fair bit of integration and partial differentials, but almost invariably numerically not analytically. I do sometimes have to do 3d geometrical transforms, luckily everything from excel up has stuff already written for that.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Math you actually use on the job

most of it is very simple (how hard can P/A get ?) But then we're using a lot of math indirectly through CFD and FEA programs and we should understand how they work. sometimes the math is involved ... calculating stress intensity solutions, calculating beam deflections ('cause I can do the math and so don't need to use FEA to solve a simple beam problem). Electrical/Avionics might do more than us poor structures guys.

what field are you interested in ? structures, composite structures, avionics, CFD, ...

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Math you actually use on the job

(OP)
My dream job would be designing aircraft/space craft and personally test flying them. Right now I'm working towards flight warrant officer. I'm taking classes at embry riddle. Some of my math classes and math work look like things I would never apply or use in aerospace engineering. That's why I was trying to get a feel for what classes/subjects I should pay more attention to. And what subjects are learned but never used.

RE: Math you actually use on the job

Patrick,

I'd suggest doing the best you can on any class you take.

Where I'd worry more about what I eventually want to do is in what classes/subjects I actually pick.

There have been times when I've come across problems that I know I used to be able to do the math for and can't now remember how - it's annoying. Sometimes I'll re-learn the math but often don't have time so have to turn to a colleague for assistance which doesn't necessarily look too good for me. I've also seen people that can do the math quickly be able to short cut a design process etc. and admire them for it.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Math you actually use on the job

"Some of my math classes and math work look like things I would never apply or use in aerospace engineering. "

That's a erroneous viewpoint, in my opinion. The objective is NOT to learn ONLY what you can apply to your chosen major. Otherwise, we would still using the apprenticeship method for training engineers. What if your career or your interests change; will you then go back to school all over again? Because reality is that you will likely change your specifc job over your career, either voluntarily or otherwise. It behooves you, then, to acquire at least some familiarity with most types of math that might come your way. You can do a search on this site for topics that talk about what people are currently doing, relative to what they went to school for, and you'll find a variety of answers. I do almost nothing that's related to my major, but I have sufficient math background to deal with whatever comes down the pike.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Math you actually use on the job

"That's why I was trying to get a feel for what classes/subjects I should pay more attention to." ...
preferably all of them, 'cause you never know what you're going to need,
but practically as many as you can, 'cause we've got finite resources.

remember too that many jobs have stringent entrance criteria just as a way to reduce the number of candidates.

I'd expect that your goal would likely require (but probably not need) a PhD (since Masters are practically required for any job these days).

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Math you actually use on the job

Stars for KENAT, rb1957, and IRStuff.

Another point; something may come along that interests you, and DOESN'T EXIST NOW.

I spent ten great years hacking microcontrollers and microprocessors, neither of which were even a dream when I graduated from college. The only background I got from college was writing FORTRAN, the Elbonian way, because the college had exactly one computer for student use, and the grad students maintained a months-long queue of decks intended to compute PI to many decimal places and other such useful exercises. A decade later, I got access to a time-share, and a decade after that, my own computer, built from 'spare' parts.



Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Math you actually use on the job

I find a little linear algebra helps; dot product and cross product to determine torques and angles between non-intersecting lines of action and hinges. While a CAD system can make measurements, it's a lot faster to set up the matrices in Excel and make graphs to depict expected results.

Mostly I liked the math because it gives a framework for understanding how things function and a basis then to select tools to do the heavy lifting. With no idea what an FFT does, it's harder to understand why it would be useful.

It also taught me a good lesson in being disciplined. When I got to triple integrations I was having all sorts of trouble. I would do the problem multiple times and get different answers each time. A friend had mentioned his frat had people who could help so I went there and asked. There wasn't a person available, but they said they had notes and let me look at those. While the notes had nothing to do with the homework at hand, I saw at a glance that it was laid out neatly, unlike my own attempts, where I would perform steps in my head and only write down what I thought were critical ones.

I don't know if that's true for others or if math is the class where they learned it, but making a clear and traceable path through a problem solution is the best lesson math taught me.

RE: Math you actually use on the job

I would recommend trying to find a book called " Theory and Analysis of Flight Structures" by Robert M. Rivello. This is a good practical book similar to Peery but with a more theoretical standpoint.

From the standpoint of an engineer in aerospace structures, what's given in that book is about the extent of what the typical employee would ever need.

Look an introductions to matrix method of structural analysis. For this it is a good idea to take linear algebra. Tools like MathCAD can do your heavy lifting but you still need to know what determinants are, etc.

Certain methods of beam theory need a practical understanding of basic calculus. For example the singularity function method - although there are special integration rules there.

Keep em' Flying
//Fight Corrosion!

RE: Math you actually use on the job

I have used almost every scrap of math that I was ever taught, at some point in my career (only 15 years into it). Trig, geometry, algebra, vectors, linear, calculus, integration, differentials. But I do get a little rusty during projects that don't require much math, and have to go back to the books. That's normal, though. It's good to freshen up your knowledge of any subject before going into design mode.

Second point: you'll never win the argument if you try to convince your instructors that the math they are teaching you is pointless. Because they know there is some engineer somewhere out there, that does use it. You just have to pass the class, wipe the sweat from your brow, and then get on with your career.

STF

RE: Math you actually use on the job

In engineering, even though we now have design and analysis software tools that make our job much easier, you still need to have a basic understanding of the math/science used by the software. Eventually you will use most of the math you learned in school. The only hard part is recalling it several years later.

If advanced math classes are made available to you as part of your tuition at E-R, why not take full advantage of them? Push yourself to learn as much as possible in school, rather than doing the minimum effort to get by. Adopting this mindset will serve you well during your professional career.

RE: Math you actually use on the job

PatrickCorbet,

I have been re-reading my old college textbooks on differential equations lately so that I can re-read my vibrations stuff. It still matters.

--
JHG

RE: Math you actually use on the job

Sreid,
That's a handy website. Thanks for the link!

STF

RE: Math you actually use on the job

Wolfram Alpha is also a phone app, and occasionally useful.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

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