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Remembering how to answer questions?

  1. May 27, 2010 #1
    Do any engineers have problems remembering how to answer a particular question without having to look in a formula book etc?

    It happens to me a lot. As a student I worry about this quite a lot. Would like someone who perhaps is in industry to give some input.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2010 #2
    A good question. I'm a professional engineer (PE), in my field the building code is very important as are design codes for the various materials used in construction and we are legally required to comply with them. However, the engineers job seems to have become more one of deciphering text rather than engineering. It's not so much looking up formulas as it is navigating through all the rules and exceptions and finding relevent pieces that apply.

    Maybe, long ago one might have been able to memorize the code, but the building code continues to grow in size with more and more rules to cover more and more conditions as explicitly as possible.

    So I see the problem with engineers is that all they are learning to do is follow what is explicitly dictated in codes, they view there job as like following a cookbook. To some extent that is exactly what it is, but it gets increasingly difficult for them to take advantage of the best exception of all which is: "or using rational analysis"

    I'm not sure if that is along the same lines as your question but hopefully it makes sense.

    (rereading your question I would say the most important thing is to understand the formula, you can usually keep as many books as you need near your desk, or on hard drive)
  4. May 29, 2010 #3
    I think as long as you remember the fundamentals, the general principles, and where to look up specific information you will be fine. Most of us cannot realistically expect to be able to remember every formula we have ever seen.
  5. Jun 3, 2010 #4
    Formula sheets are there for a reason. One could try and memorize this information but for what purpose?

    When you gain experience in a field, the equations will become like second nature to you because you work with them on a regular basis. During undergrad however, you are bombarded with many different equations from many different subject areas that of course you won't have them memorized.

    Alternatively, many engineering spend very little time working on the theoretical implementation of things and more time on the practical implementation of things (like building a building to code as mentioned by sardonicus). It really depends what type of job you are doing if you'll end up using many equations.
  6. Jun 6, 2010 #5
    Be Blonde!
    Here are some bolndes jokes or stuff.

    Blonde’s Story

    A blonde is sitting at home one day when she decides she’s sick of hearing blonde jokes. She decides to dye her hair brown, and, to see if it works in making her more intelligent, goes to a farm where she approaches the farmer with the challenge, “If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I take one home?” The farmer chuckles to himself, before replying, “Sure, why not?” The blonde pulls out a calculator and does a bunch of hugely complicated equations and comes up with a number. She says to the farmer, “There are 314 sheep out there.” The farmer is astonished. “You’re right!” he says. “Go take your pick”. The blonde takes a few minutes to pick a sheep, waves to the farmer, and leaves. She’s sitting at home the next day when she hears a knock on her front door. She opens it and finds the farmer standing there holding his hat. He says to her, “If I can guess your real hair colour, can I have my dog back?”
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