Month: January 2013

My Ancient Memories

Reviewing the first category from the Wikipedia in mechanical engineering of statics, it’s picking up where I leout off in high school.  That’s almost half a lifetime ago now.  Anyways, starting with Newton’s three laws:

  1. A body (object) in motion tends to remain in motion, and a body (object) at rest tends to remain at rest.
  2. A change of motion will be in equal proportion to the force applied and that force will be applied in a straight line.
  3. Every action (force) has an equal and opposite reaction.

There are equations that prove those laws, but I’m still working to understand them.  The way those apply to statics is that using those laws, a static is a structure or system that in its normal state is balanced and does not move. Theirs is really useful for structural engineers that create buildings, bridges, and other things we really need to not collapse on us.

Apparently structures are rated on their stability by where the center of gravity is.  If the center of gravity is within a structure it is considered stable while if the center of gravity is outside of the structure it is unstable.  Logical, but a structure is metastable if the center is in the foundation of the structure.

They actually had to invent a word for “more stable”.  Amazing.

Anti-College Experiment: The First Steps

Alright, let’s start where every five year old starts when they want to know something: Wikipedia.

What I’m trying to learn is supposed to take four to five years of intense study.  The short version is that mechanical engineering is the study and application of how things move and work.

The broadly accepted basics of the field are:

  •  Statics and Dynamics
  • Strength of materials
  • Instrumentation and measurement
  • Electrotechnology
  • Electronics
  • Thermodynamics, heat transfer and HVAC
  • Combustion, automotive engines and fuel
  • Fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics
  • Mechanism design and kinematics
  • Manufacturing engineering
  • Hydraulics and pneumatics
  • Mathematics with a focus on calculus, differential equations and linear algebra
  • Engineering design
  • Product design
  • Material engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Design engineering

Oh my goodness.

How does one eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

Why The Heck Are We Still Paying For College?

It is 2013.  We as a species have invented a communication medium that has made information easier than ever to access and share.  We are putting more and more information onto the internet and we are sharing it FOR FREE.

With a few quick searches, you can find almost any knowledge you want, from how many people there are in the world (over 7 billion as of the posting of this) to kids that actually find the answers to their homework questions for math and science.

So, knowing that, I pose this question:

For any advanced skill that “requires” a college degree, do we really need to go to college to learn it?

Here is my proposed experiment:

Gain A College Level Education WITHOUT THE COLLEGE

I have decided to learn mechanical engineering, something I have been interested in but never pursued.  I stopped pursuing science back in high school when I decided to become an artist.  The most advanced course I took was physics, most of which I have forgotten.

RULES:

  1. All knowledge must be gained from websites that are currently available and documented on this blog.
  2. If there is any information that must be purchased, document cost and location of the information.
  3. No personal coaches may be employed.
  4. Any books that will be referenced must be purchased online.
  5. Find a method to test knowledge against that of a student at a local university pursuing degree in mechanical engineering.

Personal Goal:  Begin building components for an Iron Man suit of armor.  Hey, you gotta shoot for the stars.  Even if you miss you can land on Mars.

You guys have any suggestions for how I should improve the experiment?  Leave them in the comments below.

A Sudden Spurt Of Maturity

I’ve been asked to be a godfather and, Marlon Brando jokes aside, holy cannoli.

When the heck did I grow up?  Even the shadow of that kind of responsibility shifts your perspective of the world.  I care for the kid a great deal and want nothing more than to see him grow into a man and keep the wonder of the world that he has intact.  But to be responsible for him if the worst should happen?

I have no hesitation about my decision, but now I have one more reason I shouldn’t ride a bike into the grand canyon.  I guess that means becoming one of the first astronauts on Mars is out too.

Heh.