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I could really use some help in deciding how to use my summer.

  1. May 13, 2010 #1
    Hello. I’m transferring from community college to engineering school next fall and I don’t feel too good about my math skills.

    I was not a good student when I was a kid. I’ve just recently learned all the math I know in community college.

    I’m just coming out of calculus 3, and got a good grade, but I don’t know how the content of the course stacks up to university standards.

    We didn’t cover Jacobians, line integrals, surface integrals or anything else from the last chapter on vector calculus.

    Also, I’ve never had any exposure to probability, statistics, or differential equations. My calculus 2 professor skipped the chapter introducing differential equations.

    I will defiantly be taking differential equations next semester and almost certainly another math but I don’t know which one yet.

    I’ve got some cheap, old, out of edition textbooks on linear algebra, ODEs, my calculus book, and about four and a half hours per day to study.

    But I don’t know how best to spend this time. What should I focus on?

    If it matters ill be going in for Chemical engineering with the hope of getting into a masters program for nuclear engineering.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2010 #2
    Buh!? You skipped vector calculus? That was 90% of our Calc 3 course. So what did you guys cover? Just iterative integrals and Fubini's theorem?

    Just a note, it doesn't matter that your textbooks are old. I prefer older, well-written textbooks to this garbage they seem to be putting out these days, with 500 practice problems that are mechanical recombinations of each other, a CD-rom for some reason, and a technicolor vomit of poorly-motivated illustrations. You'll be just fine. And Dover Publications has a slew of paperback textbooks that are older, but still very good and quite cheap.
  4. May 13, 2010 #3
    The stuff we skipped was all the vector analysis in the last chapter. The one with vector fields, Green’s theorem, divergence theorem, and Stokes’s theorem. The professor said it was all mathematical physics.
  5. May 13, 2010 #4
    Hm, you should learn everything your teacher skipped. Since you're not heading to some "pure" mathematics, you must learn all this part that your teacher said was "mathematical physics".

    Perhaps the wisest idea is learning linear algebra and differential equations after you mastered all the skipped parts, for quantum mechanics (and nuclear engineering as a consequence) will heavily depend on that.
  6. May 13, 2010 #5
    Your DE class will begin from the beginning, so it will cover the material you skipped over in calc II. As long as you feel comfortable learning the subject at a regular pace, you do not need to begin studying it this summer to do well in your upcoming DE class.

    As a senior EE at the University of TN, I have yet to use any of those theorems of "mathematical physics" that extensively. Knowing them may give you a conceptual upper hand when learning abstract electromagnetic field theory, but professors (I assume based on my experience) seldom stress those math concepts. When you need them, the book will often review those concepts to the low level of understanding needed to earn an A before diving into the material that uses it.

    Line integrals seem particularly important to learn.
  7. May 13, 2010 #6
    Also, vector calc may be a separate course in the school you're transferring to-it is at mine, and required for engineers.
  8. May 13, 2010 #7
    Thanks guys.
  9. May 13, 2010 #8
    I was in the same boat as you a few years ago. I had a horrible teacher for calc 3 (which I took at a community college) who covered only a few select topics from the book. I ended up covering all of the missed sections during the summer which included most of the vector calculus chapter. I am glad I did this work because I have found myself to be more than prepared for my upper level physics courses at the university I transferred to.

    Therefore I would highly recommend you cover the topics you missed during your course. Studying linear algebra is also a good idea but I would also recommend taking the course itself if you haven't done so already.

    Since you are taking differential equations in the fall, I wouldn't worry too much about covering the material over the summer. Your preparation should be fine for taking the course. If you want to study differential equations though, then it certainly won't hurt you but calc 3 and linear algebra are the subjects I would focus on.

    As a result of this summer studying, I would say you should be all set. Everything turned out just fine for me.
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