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101 things I learned in engineering school

June 7, 2013
Every once in awhile I come across a book I wished I would have had when I was an engineering undergrad. 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School, by John Kuprenas, a PE, with Matthew Frederick, an architect, is in that category. It spans just 101 pages in handbook size (about 7 x 5 inches).

Every once in awhile I come across a book I wished I would have had when I was an engineering undergrad. 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School, by John Kuprenas, a PE, with Matthew Frederick, an architect, is in that category. It spans just 101 pages in handbook size (about 7 x 5 inches).

Author John Kuprenas says, "When I was a beginning engineering student, I found it frustrating that the calculations and abstract concepts I was learning in the classroom were difficult to tie to real-world application. The engineering curriculum gave me a lot of trees, and very little forest.....101 Things.... flips this around. It introduces engineering largely through its context, by emphasizing the common sense behind some of its fundamental concepts."

The wonderful thing about the book is that the authors organized it into small bites. Each of the topics occupies two pages and is covered with a diagram and a few paragraphs at most.

And the topics are bound to be genuinely interesting to engineering students, though a lot of them are civil engineering-centric. Here are few I found particularly worth reading:

The heart of engineering isn't calculation; it's problem solving

An object receives a force, experiences stress, and exhibits strain.

When a force acts on an object, three things can happen.

Harder materials don't ensure longevity.

Get even more out of a beam.

More inspections and fewer inspections both produce more errors.

In all, there are 101 topics like these, including one on what the heck a vector really is, which is one I wish I'd had access to during the first month of my undergrad career.

The list price for 101 Things is $16. You can find out more at Hachette Books.

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