Exploring Engineering

Exploring Engineering

An Introduction for Freshmen to Engineering and to the Design Process.

1st Edition - September 8, 2006

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  • Authors: Robert Balmer, William Keat
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080547183

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Winner of the Best New Undergraduate Textbook Award from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers! Exploring Engineering was developed to meet the need for a better way to introduce incoming engineering students to the fundamental concepts at the heart of all engineering disciplines. It was also created to show students in a vivid way the great array of opportunities and possibilities of today's engineering fields-from classical mechanical engineering to bioengineering and mechatronics. This is the first text to introduce nearly all of the major engineering areas, and to do so with a strong interdisciplinary case study approach. This approach better prepares and enables students to draw upon knowledge not only from their own particular field of expertise, but also from related or even distantly related engineering and technical and scientific fields, allowing them to become more versatile within their future employment.Exploring Engineering is flexible enough to offer a variety of approaches to the introduction of modern engineering for new students, while still providing the most important essentials that hold all engineering disciplines together, particularly the mathematical, quantitative basis of engineering as well as the modern computer tools that make today's engineering design so efficient and accurate.

Key Features

  • Introduces the fundamental physical, chemical, and material foundations for all engineering work, including motion, force, conservation of energy and matter
  • Explains the workings of simple electrical circuits, computer logic, control and mechatronics, stress/strain diagrams, bioengineering, stoichiometry
  • Offers applications of engineering ethics—using an extended case study metaphor: the modern automobile
  • Provides simple data spreadsheets and other analytical "tools of the trade" to introduce students to the concepts of theoretical and of empirical engineering
  • Presents the engineering design process using examples and assignments specifically aimed at helping to guide students and instructor through a hands-on design project


• Freshman undergraduate students entering 4-year engineering programs, including those with declared or intended majors in all engineering areas such as mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial, and civil engineering
• Freshman undergraduate students who are taking an “Introduction to Engineering Course” either as a requirement for a technical degree or as an elective for science and technology requirements for other degree programs in liberal arts, business, life sciences, and so forth
• Undergraduate and graduate students in other technical disciplines or physical sciences who may take this course as an elective.
• Undergraduate Liberal Arts Students who are taking courses to fulfill science requirements or who may want to enter technical fields

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
    Part 1: Minds-on
    Chapter 1: What Engineers Do
    Scope of this text
    Context of covered material
    Learning Sections
    What are personal ethics? (… and what have they to do with engineering?)
    The Five Cornerstones of Ethical Behavior
    Top Ten Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Making an Ethical Decision
    What are Professional ethics?
    National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers
    Fundamental Canons
    What You Should Expect to Achieve in this Course

    Chapter 2: Key Elements of Engineering Analysis with an Introduction to the Concept of Force
    The SI Unit System
    Force, Weight and Mass
    Significant Figures

    Chapter 3: How to solve problems and spreadsheet analyses
    Need-to-know-how-to-solve method of solving problems
    Spreadsheet analysis
    Cell addressing modes
    Types of data that can be in a cell
    Input to a spreadsheet
    Graphing in Spreadsheets

    Chapter 4: Energy: Kinds, Conversion, and Conservation
    Energy is the Capability to do Work
    Kinds of Energy
    Conservation of Energy

    Chapter 5: Chemical Energy of Fuels
    Atoms, Molecules, and Chemical Reactions
    The mol and the kmol
    The Air-to-Fuel Ratio
    The Heating Value of Hydrocarbon Fuels
    The Heating Value of Fuels: The General Case

    Chapter 6: The Automotive Drive Train
    Modeling the Power Output of the Otto Cycle
    Derivation of Otto cycle power output equation from first principles
    Gearing and Gear Ratios
    Improving on the Otto Cycle

    Chapter 7: Electrical Circuits
    Electrical Circuits
    Resistance, Ohm's Law and the “Power Law”
    Series and Parallel Circuits

    Chapter 8: Logic and Computers
    Analog Computers
    From Analog to Digital Computing
    Binary Logic
    Truth Tables
    Binary Arithmetic
    Binary Codes
    How does a computer work?

    Chapter 9: Control Systems Design and Mechatronics
    Modeling the control system as a block diagram
    Translating the block diagram into a mathematical model
    Selecting a control strategy
    Implementing the chosen strategy in hardware

    Chapter 10: Kinematics and Traffic Flow
    Distance, Speed, and Acceleration
    The Speed versus Time Diagram
    Applying the tool to the on-ramp problem
    General Equations of Kinematics
    The Highway Capacity Diagram

    Chapter 11: Introduction to Materials Engineering
    What are the reasons for a particular material’s strength?
    Defining Materials Requirements
    Materials Selection
    Properties of modern materials

    Chapter 12: Bioengineering
    Biological implications of injuries to the head
    The Stress-Speed-Stopping Distance-Area Criterion
    Criteria for Predicting Effects of Potential Accidents

    Chapter 13: Introduction to Chemical Engineering
    Oil Refining
    Oil refineries
    Process Engineering
    How refinery output can be improved
    Catalytic Conversion

    Chapter 14: Cars of the Future - What Will They Be Like?
    The Car Culture
    Big Changes Ahead: Convergence
    Automotive Electronics
    Smart Automobile Safety Systems
    Smart Tire Systems
    Smart Exhaust Systems
    Smart Drive-By-Wire Systems
    Smart Highway Systems
    Smart Traffic Systems
    Smart Advanced Power Systems
    Variable Displacement and Variable Valve Engines
    Fuel Cell Systems
    Enjoying the Ride – Smart Vehicle Entertainment Systems
    How Do We Get There?
    Looking Forward

    Part 2: Hands-on
    Chapter 15: Introduction to Engineering Design
    The Nature of Engineering Design
    Hands-on Design Exercise ‘The Tower’
    Benefits of a Hands-on Design Project
    Qualities of a Good Designer
    The Need for a Systematic Approach
    The Steps in the Engineering Design Process

    Chapter 16: Two Ground Rules for Design
    Ground Rule No.1: Use a Design Notebook
    Ground Rule No.2: Team Effectively

    Chapter 17: Clarification of the Task
    Problem Definition
    List of Specifications
    Design Milestone: Clarification of the Task

    Chapter 18: Generation of Alternative Concepts
    Hands-on Design Exercise ‘The Tube’
    Research Based Strategies for Promoting Creativity
    Functional Decomposition for Complex Systems
    Design Milestone: Generation of Alternatives

    Chapter 19: Evaluation of Alternatives and Selection of a Concept
    Minimize the Information Content of the Design
    Maintain the Independence of Functional Requirements
    Design for Ease of Manufacture
    Design for Robustness
    Design for Adjustability
    Hands-on Design Exercise ‘Waste Ball’
    The Decision Matrix
    Design Milestone: Evaluation of Alternatives

    Chapter 20: Detailed Design
    Detailed Drawings
    Design Milestone: Detailed Design

    Chapter 21: Oral Design Defense
    Design Milestone: Oral Design Defense

    Chapter 22: Manufacturing and Testing
    Manufacturing and Testing Strategies
    Joining Methods
    Useful Hand Tools
    Design Milestone: DFM Assessment I
    Design Milestone: DFM Assessment II

    Chapter 23: Performance Evaluation
    Individual Performance Testing
    The Final Competition
    Design Milestone: Individual Performance Testing

    Chapter 24: Design Report
    Organization of the Report
    Writing Guidelines
    Design Milestone: Design Report

    Chapter 25: An Example of a Design Competition: “A Bridge Too Far.”
    Design Competition Example: “A Bridge Too Far”
    Design Milestone Solutions for “A Bridge Too Far”
    DM 1: Clarification of the Task
    DM 2: Generation of Alternative Concepts
    DM 3: Evaluation of Alternative Concepts
    DM 4: Detailed Design

    Appendix: Official Rules for the “A Bridge Too Far” Design Competition

    Chapter 26: Closing Remarks on the Important Role of Design Projects

Product details

  • No. of pages: 400
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2006
  • Published: September 8, 2006
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080547183

About the Authors

Robert Balmer

Dr. Robert Balmer has worked as an engineer at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and at various DuPont facilities. He has over 40 years of engineering teaching experience and has authored 70 technical publications and the Elsevier undergraduate engineering textbook Modern Engineering Thermodynamics.

Affiliations and Expertise

Mechanical Engineering Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Dean Emeritus, Engineering and Computer Science, Union College, Schenectady NY, USA .

William Keat

Dr. William Keat has been teaching design for 20 years, in courses ranging from freshman engineering to a graduate course in design methodology. Has been awarded two Pi Tau Sigma Outstanding Teacher Awards and two first place finishes at the Mini-Baja East Competition while serving as an advisor.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Union College, Mechanical Engineering Department, Schenectady,USA.

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