Studies on the Mathematical Expertise of Mechanical Engineers
AbstractThis contribution summarises the results of a four-year project that aimed at capturing the mathematical expertise a rather practice-oriented mechanical engineer needs in his or her daily work. After a comprehensive review of the literature on engineering workplace studies regarding mathematics, we present and justify the method of investigation chosen for the studies. Eight students worked on four different “typical” tasks for mechanical engineers that were specified in cooperation with a colleague in engineering. Based on a detailed investigation of their documentations, tool usage and interviews with students and the colleague we identify components of mathematical expertise needed for working on the tasks and compare them with literature results. The findings corroborate many results from studies on civil and industrial engineering and add some new or more detailed results in particular regarding the effective and efficient use of computational tools and qualitative and quantitative models in mechanical engineering tasks.
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