Engineers, Models, and Thought.

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University of Illinois professor David Goldberg discusses how engineers use models as tools of thinking. He analyzes these models and the economics of them as well as their uses and applications.

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Engineers, Models, and Thought.

  1. 1. Engineers, Models & Thought David E. Goldberg Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois 61801 [email_address]
  2. 2. Engineers Think with Models <ul><li>Engineers think in terms of models. </li></ul><ul><li>Many different types: physical models, visual models, mental models, and analytical models. </li></ul><ul><li>Will Rogers theory of modeling: Never met a model I didn’t like. </li></ul>Will Rogers (1879-1935)
  3. 3. Engineers Use Models as Tools <ul><li>Engineer model usage is instrumental. </li></ul><ul><li>Not an end in itself, but used for another end. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists and mathematicians build models as an end. Toolmakers to engineers. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineers use math & science (and many other) tools as instruments or tools to make useful artifacts . </li></ul><ul><li>Tool usage is subject to economics . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Economics of Modeling <ul><li>Error versus cost of modeling </li></ul>ε , Error C, Cost of Modeling Engineer/Inventor Scientist/Mathematician
  5. 5. Spectrum of Models
  6. 6. Marginal Utility of Models <ul><li>Economic model usage: marginal cost less than or equal to marginal benefit to design. </li></ul><ul><li> C ≤  B </li></ul><ul><li>If cost higher than advance in design, thinking is uneconomic. </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe fun, maybe scientific. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not advance technology enough to be worthwhile . </li></ul>Alfred Marshall (1842-1924)
  7. 7. Economy of Thought Essential <ul><li>Terms “engineer” & “scientist” are used loosely. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes “engineers” do science & “scientists” do engineering </li></ul><ul><li>But economy of intellection helps understand which is doing what when. </li></ul><ul><li>In real engineering, use thinking process balanced with design goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering thought is distinctive, partially because of this economic difference. </li></ul>www.ifoundry.uiuc.edu
  8. 8. Engineers, Models & Thought David E. Goldberg Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois 61801 [email_address]

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