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Being an Engineer : Essential - and interesting - mathematics and tools.

  1. Jan 27, 2012 #1
    So, its a long post and I feel I've been pushing this thing further and further without considering it properly.

    Here's the background: I am doing a 5 year B. Tech. + M. Tech. Integrated course in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering. There's one major issue though. My curriculum doesn't focus much on mathematics and its applications. Now, this wouldn't have been an issue, but the trouble is...

    In leading up to being selected for the program - the highschool level - , we were trained to do highly intricate problems in Mathematics and Physics and respectable chemistry (Physical, O Chem and Inorganic Chem.) You could say my Heart (and Brain) is still stuck there.

    Here's the current scenario: Over the last 3.5 years, I've come across numerous concepts in Mathematics and Computer Science from general reading - Neural Networks, Data Mining, Linear Algebra, Genetic Algorithms - and yes, I also did a course in Probability and Differential Equations apart from Calculus. Also been reading Philip Johnson Laird's "The Computer and The Mind - An Introduction to Cognitive Sciences" and I find it very interesting - unlike Biology. Would also want to enhance my skills with Python - i could play around with it.

    What I plan to do:
    Pursue my interests and keep a minimal grip on Biotechnology. So, the question is, how do I get going? I am seriously not sure what to do next.

    I have 1.5 years to go - during which my other commitments are my Masters project, a competition in DNA Nanotechnology and some minor coursework. I'm trying to get my Master's Project in System's Biology. Before I graduate - I would want to pick up on some respectable maths and actually practice it.

    What I have in mind is reading up on some of the above topics and working on some short projects that require brainstorming - rather than solving entire textbooks. The idea here is to flirt with my interests and do something productive - and exhilarating RATHER THAN follow a textbook with no goal in sight. I'd do that some other day - nothing against it, but time constraints make it unfeasible.

    So, where do I start? Any websites for picking up on engineering math? Any good textbooks - like Kreyzig for instance which have embedded short modelling projects at the end?

    It'd be very helpful if some of you who are practicing in one or more related fields could suggest something practical here. I'd want more learning - and learning experiences - rather than plain reading - although if it comes to that, I have no issues.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2012 #2
    Not even one bit of help? There are atleast 250 reads, and no replies!
  4. Jan 28, 2012 #3
    Perhaps you have had no replies because it is difficult to get to grips with where you are heading. I have read your post several times and certainly find this (no offence meant).

    You say you are studying Bioprocess Engineering, which to my mind is akin to Chemical Engineering.
    There is certainly some quite advanced engineering maths associated with chem eng.

    For instance the classic text

    Transport Phenomena by

    Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot.

    is (edit whoops) [STRIKE]not[/STRIKE] excellent, comprehensive but not for the fainthearted.

    However there seems to be some doubt as to whether you will remain in Bio-eng. You seem to be asking about harder (edit=more mechanical) science.

    A really good reference book to have on your shelves would be

    The Chemistry Maths Book by

    Eric Steiner

    I think this would suit your needs better than Kreysig, which although an excellent book, is biased towards electrical and mechanical engineers.

    To come to some more speculative sugestions.

    We are discovering that the maths of biological systems is is heavily dependant on chaos theory, fuzzy logic and the like. Further there is a whole branch of maths dedicated mathematical modelling -you have much choice here.

    Fuzzy Thinking by Bart Kosko

    From Calculus to Chaos by David Acheson

    Mathematical Modelling by Berry and Houston

    Mathematical Models by Cundy and Rollet

    Mathematical Models: Continuous and discrete dynamical systems
    by Griffiths and Oldknow

    Mathematics for Economics and Business by ian jacques

    has a compeletely different slant but every engineer needs to know some economics as engineering is about economic ways of doing things.

    Finally don't forget the statistics.

    go well
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  5. Jan 28, 2012 #4
    Thank you! What an excellent reply!

    I shall go over this and come back in some time. Thanks for the suggestions in Math Modelling.

    As far as the not so obviousness of the posts go - well, I am not really inclined to be practicing bioprocess engineering (which IS akin to chemical engineering), but I'd finish up with a rudimentary understanding of the same. I don't really know why, but it has never sparked my interest so much.

    My current interests are BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems, Neuroscience and Systems Biology.

    Though I'd like to reply properly after having gone through your post properly!
  6. Jan 28, 2012 #5
    See my edit on Transport Phenomena
  7. Jul 13, 2012 #6
    You will have to be a little more precise in what you are interested in learning. Some interesting reads for an engineer:

    Reddy's continuum mechanics, milne-thomson's theoretical aerodynamics and theoretical hydrodynamics. Tu, Yeoh and Liu's CFD - a computational approach. I also found Schaum's tensor calculus to be quite fun (Riemann geometry and the like). In general, try to pick up skills in solving partial differential equations, both analytically and numerically (programming will be very useful here). Optimization theory is also very interesting and useful to study.

    THE software of choice for picking up engineering and programming skills IMHO is MATLAB.
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