I’ve been asked quite a few times now what kind of courses I’m taking, but it’s also hard to describe in just a few words without confusing people. I thought I’d use this post to go into a little further detail about those classes and what we actually do in them.
1.) System Dynamics: This class is a little hard to explain, but we essentially analyze how different systems (mechanical, electrical, thermal, hydraulic systems, etc) of a device work together using concepts from some of the pre-requisite math classes (Differential Equations) and a course called Numerical Methods using MATLAB (a computer program). It’s not as difficult as it sounds, as long as you understand the math behind it.
2.) Applied Thermodynamics: This course is the second part to the Thermodynamics class I took a few semester ago. We learn about gaseous mixtures, psychrometrics, combustion, power cycles, refrigeration cycles, etc. It’s hard, but I did manage to get a perfect score on our last test on Combustion!
3.) Electronic Circuit Analysis: This is a class about electrical circuits for non-Electrical Engineering students. We have to take it because many mechanical systems also have a electrical component to them. Difficulty level: 5000
4.) Intro to Applied Math: We learn about Fourier series, partial differential equations, complex variables, Taylor and Laurent series and residue theory. It’s not as hard as it sounds, you just have to remember the formulas and some calculus concepts.
5.) Thermal-Fluid Systems Lab: This is a lab that involves experiments relating to fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer. It’s an 8am lab, so it’s awful. Not hard, but still awful. We had to do a group project as our final exam, in which we had to design, build and test a supersonic converging-diverging nozzle. It was awful and group projects are
the worst such an interesting experience. We ordered the wrong sized parts and didn’t even get them until the week before Thanksgiving, and then decided to try and 3D print the nozzle instead of using our aluminum block in an effort to save time. The people who printed our nozzle first printed something that was about 4 in long, instead of nine. The next time, they printed the wrong design and the bottom wasn’t flat (it looked like a boat). We decided to give up on that plan and go back to our original plan, but it was a very long process and the project was not finished until late the night before our 8AM presentation.
Using the milling machine to cut the nozzle
Top view of our nozzle
Bottom view of our nozzle
5.) World Literature I: We read literature from ancient times to about 1600. This is obviously the easiest class on my schedule, but it has also been disappointing. There’s not a whole lot of meaningful class discussions, partly because the majority of the class doesn’t do the reading or understand what we’ve read. There’s about three or four of us that contribute to these “discussions.” The professor makes powerpoints that basically give you everything you need to pass the test, and yet students still complain that the class is “hard.” Fortunately, this is the last non-technical elective that I have to take.
These are some of the courses that one would take as a junior Mechanical Engineering student at my university. I’ve already registered for my courses for next semester, and I’ll share those in the spring. By the time anyone else sees this post, I’ll be starting my exams, so wish me luck!