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Math used in engineering

  1. Dec 20, 2011 #1
    Hello guys, have a question for you. I was thinking of trying to become an engineer. Are all the classes I would have to take rooted in calculus? Would you say once a student has mastered or grasps calculus they will be successful? thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2011 #2
    I'm about to enter into my last semester of Mechanical Engineering and I would say that having a strong grasp on the basics of calculus will help immensely throughout nearly all of your courses. I would say like 95% of the engineering classes all deal with integrals and derivatives quite commonly. However, most classes don't really focus on much past calc 2. You're not likely to run into Greens Theorem or anything like that outside of the Calc 3 class. I've never run into triple integrals, spherical coordinates, or really anything in calc 3 in my other classes.

    Also, make sure you have a strong grasp on algebra. More often than not, I would get stuck/make a mistake on the algebra required for a solution
  4. Dec 21, 2011 #3
    If you want to get an engineering degree, you should know trig, geomoetry, and algebra like you know your native language; even better. An understanding of calculus will help you immensely, also, not only because you'll need it to pass your classes, but because many concepts require an understaning of calculus to really grasp them.

    It also depends greatly on your chosen major, obviously. Aero's will use more calculus (multivariable, diffEQ, etc) than, say, chemical engineering due to the principles they each work with.
  5. Jan 4, 2012 #4
    In EE, calculus is only the beginning - the foundation upon which a lot more sits.
  6. Jan 4, 2012 #5
    From personal experience, calculus is what you need to describe a system.

    However, to control and/or monitor the system, algebra is usually the tool that make use of the calculus.

    So both calculus and algebra are quite important.

    Also, discrete mathematics and statistics are very important too.

    Hahaha sorry for this crappy explanation but this is what I think from the point of view as a Mechatronics graduate.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  7. Jan 5, 2012 #6


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    If you have a steady hand, will you be a successful brain surgeon? Having one tool does not make you a master craftsman. I'm a successful engineer and I don't think I've used calculus once since university.

    Knowledge of calculus clearly does not mean you're going to be a successful engineer!
  8. Jan 5, 2012 #7
    If you end up working in manufacturing then you will be using statistics more than anything else.
  9. Jan 5, 2012 #8
    I don't think many engineers actually use calculus after college, but having a strong grasp on it will help out in being a successful student which is more important at the moment for the OP. Not only will it help with just getting through the courses, but it will help with the general understanding of the more complex concepts (harmonic systems, working in Laplace space, just general understanding of engineering concepts) which will then pave the way to being a successful engineer.
  10. Jan 6, 2012 #9
    Calculus is used for upper level engineering (but it is generally done with computers, for instance, aerodynamicists don't generally make their calculations on the backs of envelopes) and for academics.

    In general, engineers don't use calculus on a daily basis (though it will probably be used from time to time to some extent), but it is pretty essential to getting a deep understanding of eningeering concepts.
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