Engineering problems can be quite challenging. However, if you follow the right steps, you will be able to solve any problem you encounter in college and the FE exam. The process will also become much easier.
Step 1: Don't be afraid to try
People get scared when they don't know what's going to happen and what kind of problems they are going to face. They end up worrying if they'll be able to solve it. These situations usually put us in a place where we feel stressed, anxious, and frustrated, which negatively affects our thought process. To solve engineering problems, you shouldn't be afraid to be challenged and face new problems that you never encountered before. Also, you shouldn't expect that the cases you worked on in your classes or your homework will be in your midterm or final exams. Or, that your FE civil practice exam is going to be the same as the FE exam. When you accept that, you’ll start focusing on finding ways to do better and to progress. As a result, your confidence will boost, and your stress will be more manageable. It's important to remember not to be afraid to try and fail. What truly matters is to keep progressing.
Step 2: Identify the problem
When you encounter a problem, read it first, try to identify what is given to you, and what you need to find and convert that into maths and numbers. A lot of people freak out and get confused about what equation they should use. At this point, it's too soon to think about equations. It's great to have an initial idea, but you shouldn't focus on it.
Step 3: Draw a diagram to visualize the problem
There are different types of diagrams used for various engineering problems :
- Free-body diagrams are used for statics, dynamics, strengths of materials, or physics problems.
- Pipe diagrams are used for fluids or hydraulics. Draw a pipe with the reservoirs, showing the flow weight and the diameter of the pipe.
- Cash-flow diagrams are used for engineering economics problems.
- Phase diagrams for mechanics.
- For retaining walls, draw a wall demonstrating all the active and passive pressures.
These diagrams learned in engineering classes are designed to help you better visualize the problem and figure out which equation to use.
Step 4: Equations
Usually, at this point, you need to bring on all the knowledge you acquired and employ it to find out which equation works best. Sometimes, you might need only one equation, and sometimes you need more. Use your math skills, like algebra or trigonometry, to solve the equation.
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