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Good (free) resource for learning basic mechanical engineering

  1. Mar 14, 2012 #1
    Hi there, I'm a biomedical engineering undergrad currently enrolled in an university whose engineering program is about as masochistic as any other. I'm doing pretty damn well in all my classes not named "biomechanics", which I attribute to my continued inability to learn much of anything at the ungodly hour of 8 AM. This would be fine if our textbook were not terrible and provided solutions worked through in detail, but it is terrible and does not show you how to solve problems or offer you any answers so that you might check your work and learn from your mistakes. It's also a bad book in its own right, the very special way that engineering textbooks are sometimes overly heady and yet simultaneously extremely condescending in what it assumes you do not know; this book has described to me in some detail how to compute the area of a circle but did not take the time to explain the force-weirdness of cantilever beams. On a very basic level, what we have here is a failure to communicate.

    I need a different book. The best thing I could do right now is find a comprehensive and well-written book that works through problems in detail and costs me less than the one penny I (really don't) have on a student budget. Biomechanics being essentially mechanical engineering with bones instead of beams, I figured this is the best place to ask for a quality MCE text. So what would you guys recommend? Even if the book's not free, throw some suggestions out there...while it's kind of a hassle, I can probably get it through Worldcat or some jazz like that.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2012 #2


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    When you say "mechanical engineering" which topic are you specifically trying to read about?
    • Structural Mechanics
    • Fluids
    • Thermodynamics
    • Statics
    • Dynamics
    • Heat Transfer
    • Machinery
    • ... etc.
    Point is there are too many topics to cover in one book. As it is I think you're best off working with the professor, TA's, and classmates to learn the material because reading a book alone can be a very difficult way to learn. A good no-nonsense way to cover a lot of subjects in engineering is the EIT Reference Manual, but it's far from free.

  4. Mar 14, 2012 #3
    Odd as this sounds, working through the straight textbook is how I learn best if the book is any good. This is always how I function in my classes because I don't really get much out of lectures other than very a basic systematic overview of How to Do Things (I stopped taking notes a long time ago when I realized that they don't help me). Part of it, too, is that this class seems so easy (it's just straight-up statics) and I know I'm missing so much from the early start time that it's kind of embarassing to ask a teacher or classmate anything. Every time I have a question, I know it's probably because of a hole in my understanding and not because the material itself is difficult. The advantage of a good book here is that I get to work independantly, look up what I don't understand, and have the confidence that something I don't know is something I don't know because it's actually newer and more complicated material, and not just because I've been zoning out a lot on basic stuff in lecture.

    So to revise the question: what would you guys recommend for a good book on statics?
  5. Mar 14, 2012 #4

    jack action

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  6. Mar 14, 2012 #5


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    Again I will recommend talking to the TA or other classmates for help, but with that said thanks for clarifying your question and I hope those websites can help.

    What topics within statics are you specifically having trouble with?
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