Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Engineers

The engineers in my calculus class are so funny.

Last night one sent me an email because he got an answer of 0.23 and the answer in the back of the book was 2.3. He outlined his method of solution and wanted me to help him find his error.

Me, if I had been doing calculus homework and got an answer of 0.23 and the answer in the back of the book was 2.3, I would have thought, "I'm just off by a constant multiple; clearly I know how this type of problem works." And I would have moved on to the next problem without thought. When I took physics classes, I always got points off on the test for leaving my answers as (unevaluated) definite integrals; to me the actual numerical value was vastly subordinate to the set-up.

One day they will be building bridges. I will continue to work on restoring a house so quirky that the windows are noticably trapezoidal.*


*This is not just age and settling: if they started out as rectangles, they would have settled to be parallelograms. My house was built out of square.