This class was tough.
Course Overview:
As a student pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Structural Engineering, CEE 241, Engineering Statics, which was a required course I took during my third semester at UNLV, a prerequisite for all of the subsequent civil engineering-specific courses, as well as a requirement to obtain advanced standing in the degree. I had Dr. Douglas Rigby, who was also the instructor for the senior design class at the time. He was very accessible, had office hours twice a week for 3 hours at a time, and was always very thorough in responding to questions both in class and via email, always within 15 minutes to an hour. I would definitely recommend taking statics with him as you not only learn the fundamentals of statics very well, but he also has a vast international experience in the civil engineering industry, having worked in Hong Kong and several other places for a while. He frequently relates concepts taught in class with real-world applications as well as stresses the importance of taking a non-required math course, Numerical Methods, which can serve to be useful in professional application.
Course highlights:
Statics is an essential course for anyone majoring in civil or mechanical engineering, as the course teaches you how to use engineering paper to organize problem solutions, effectively draw/analyze free body diagrams for various structures and machines, understanding how to perform tension/compression and force equilibrium calculations, analyzing trusses by joints and the method of sections, moment arms, distributed loads, shear force and bending moment diagrams, composite bodies, moment of inertia, etc. You will find that nearly all of the material you learn from the beginning of the course will serve incredibly handy as you progress into later units, because as is common in many calculus and physics courses, each unit continuously builds on each other. In terms of difficulty, the introductory material isn't too hard if you stay on top of your homework assignments, but do expect to spend over 12 hours a week doing homework assignments for this class, because while the syllabus states each one may involve around 8-9 problems, it takes nearly 5-6 hours per assignment to fully grasp and understand the rigorous material.
Hours per week:
12+ hours
Advice for students:
There were a few aspects of my studying habits for this class that I could have improved. For one, it is important to not become over-reliant on using Chegg's online textbook solutions to do the two weekly homework assignments, because I would have Chegg open while I was solving the problem instead of attempting the questions independently first and then using Chegg to verify my solutions and clarify errors. When studying for tests, looking back at homework assignments that were based on Chegg's solutions can cause confusion because it can easily influence students to develop a "recipe" mindset to solve statics problems, and this is where statics vastly differs from the general university-level math or science course. Tutors and experts on Chegg have amassed far more experience in the subject and sometimes employ shortcuts and advanced formulas/theorems not taught in class to solve problems, which don't help when trying to understand how to relate what you learned in class to what is expected of you in the homework. I would definitely stress the importance of going through the examples in the textbook for each assigned section when studying for an exam, which is something I rarely did, because they may not fully elucidate how to do a certain homework problem you're stuck on for an assignment, and usually the level of difficulty of the homework problems would be far greater than that of the example problems. Nevertheless, Dr. Rigby tends to use some previous homework problems as well as example problems on his exams, which is another reason to familiarize yourself with the textbook and past assignments as much as possible.