CEIE 230 Surv...cation


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AN ENGINEERING STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE Richard M. Felder Hoechst Celanese Professor of Chemical Engineering North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7905 You say things aren't going quite the way you'd like this semester, especially in your ten o'clock class? The professor just covers the board with equations and doesn't explain anything? The textbook is dry as dust and doesn't have worked-out examples? The exam problems are nothing like the homework and class averages are in the 40's? Well, I'm not unsympathetic--I had some classes like that in my day and complained about them just as bitterly. Unfortunately, while complaining may make you feel better, it won't do a thing for your grades. I'd like to propose several more productive ways to help yourself. First, though, let me suggest that the real problem is not that professor who's making your life miserable. It's that over the years you've bought into a message that goes like this: " My teachers have the truth, the wisdom, and the tricks of the trade. Their job is to feed it all to me in lectures, and my job is to soak it up and then repeat it on homework and exams. If I can do that, I've learned what I need to know. ..and that's the only way I can learn it ." Wrong! That approach may have worked in high school and earlier, but it begins to fail in college – and once you get into the plant or research lab, it stops working completely. On the job there are no teachers, lectures, homework, or exams. There are only problem – usually poorly defined ones – and solutions that are either acceptable or not. To make it worse, you no longer get partial credit for solutions that don't work, even if you use the correct formula. If you design ten reactors and one blows up, trust me – they won't give you a 90 and congratulate you. And yet every day, hundreds of thousands of engineers, most no brighter than you--many not as bright – who once struggled with their own confusing instructors and texts and didn't understand entropy any better than you do, are out there doing just fine, figuring out what they need to know and solving their problems. How do they do it? They know a few things you still haven't discovered, that's how. They learned soon after graduating not to count on someone else telling them everything they need to know to solve their problems. Then they learned how to find out for themselves what they need to know, and discovered that there is a lot of help available if they know where to go for it. These engineers learned those things out of necessity, most of them after graduating. What I'd like to do here is give you a head start, both to help you do better in your remaining courses and to enable you to hit the ground running on your first job. Give the
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ideas a try. You have nothing to lose, and if they work (and I'm pretty sure that at some of them will), you win. Figure out what you need to make course material clearer
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This note was uploaded on 11/11/2009 for the course CEIE 230 taught by Professor Binnning during the Spring '09 term at George Mason.

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