Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 17, 2013

Email: Today at my job…

…I worked on my algorithm for speeding up simulation of an internal
combustion engine. It involves solving a matrix system. Our software
is in use by most automotive companies in America as a critical part
of their design process, and speeding up the simulations is really
important to them. I’m also wondering how exactly you think one can
design circuits involving inductors and capacitors without using
imaginary numbers.

I always enjoy it when you say what math is and isn’t used in the “real world.”

I am also wondering how exactly I can think one can design circuits involving inductors and capacitors without using imaginary numbers since I don’t recall ever saying or thinking such a thing. When someone tries to put words in your mouth, they’re in ‘ego salvage mode’.

Electrical engineering classes teach you the applied math and how to do it. I know it because I’ve taken such courses. There is quite a difference between applied math and ‘math by itself’ especially on the higher levels. This is why Texas got rid of the advanced Algebra class because it didn’t serve a purpose. Remember that the Texas legislature is totally run by business interests. I’d say they have a much better grasp on the ‘real world’ than you do. The general population is not going to be designing circuits. Besides, the imaginary numbers and matrices are already taught in basic high school Algebra if I remember correctly. There is no point to an advanced math class (or any class) if it is not going to be applied. It’s worthless.

If someone put their ego eggs in the English basket, they could say, “Today at my job… I explained and/or wrote tech manuals explaining electrical engineering using advanced English. I always enjoy it when someone says what English is and isn’t used in the ‘real world’.” The question is never that people shouldn’t read and write, the question is how much should they be taught to do so for most purposes in the real world? The same thing applies to math. Most education is an upside down U. There are diminishing returns. How much math should a person learn? The only answer is as much as needed. If someone was learning math beyond what was needed, is that a sign of intelligence? Before you answer that, what if we ask: If someone was learning english beyond what was needed, is that a sign of intelligence? Unless you love learning the stuff, there is no point going beyond what is needed especially if you are paying an extremely high tuition rates.

I’m an anti-hype type of person. When someone hypes something, I go the other way. Ever since the recession, there has been a flood of students rushing into engineering schools under the flag that ‘we need more math’. Do we? How much math taught is actually applied? And do you need to go to college to learn such math? It is a common joke that most of Literature classes can be learned by just obtaining a library card and checking out the books, but there are tons of sources on the Internet to learn the math for free (khanacademy being one). What is the education worth paying for? And what is ‘smart’? What is ‘intelligent’? We like to say Bill Gates is intelligent. But he doesn’t have a college degree at all. I see that movies are being made about Steve Jobs. He doesn’t even have a degree either.

While young people lionize Edward Snowden, we should ask, “Is he intelligent?” He has no certification or degree of any kind. He seems like an intelligent guy, but without a degree or certification many companies would deem him ‘stupid’. I wonder if his lack of formal education meant he had a lack of conditioning that allowed him to do what he did (while his co-workers, with many degrees, stayed quiet).

How much education is actually needed?



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