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This series of programmed texts has been written specifically for first year students on degree courses in engineering. Each book covers one of the core subjects required by electrical, mechanical, civil or general engineering students, and the contents have been designed to match the first year requirements of most universities and polytechnics. The layout of the texts is based on that of the well-known text, Engineering Mathematics by K. Stroud (first published by Macmillan in 1970, and now in its third edition).
The remarkable success of this book owes much to the skill of its author, but it also shows that students greatly appreciate a book which aims primarily to help them to learn their chosen subjects at their own pace. The authors of this present series acknowledge their debt to Mr Stroud, and hope that by adapting his style and methods to their own subjects they have produced equally helpful and popular texts. Before publication of each text the comments of a class of first year students, of some recent engineering graduates and of some lecturers in the field have been obtained. These helped to identify any points which were particularly difficult or obscure to the average reader or which were technically inaccurate or misleading.
Subsequent revisions have eliminated the difficulties which were highlighted at this stage, but it is likely that, despite these efforts, a few may have passed unnoticed. For this the authors and publishers apologise, and would welcome criticisms and suggestions from readers. Readers should bear in mind that mastering any engineering subject requires considerable effort. The aim of these texts is to present the material as simply as possible and in a way which enables students to learn at their own pace, to gain confidence and to check their understanding. The responsibility for learning is, however, still very much their own.
Engineers are interested in designing and making things which will work. To do this they must first understand the principles behind the operation of the things they are designing with and then put this knowledge to use in the construction of useful artefacts. The main tool they use in acquiring this understanding is Mathematics. The first step in trying to understand how something works is to try to build a 'mathematical model' of it. Physical principles are described in the language of mathematics and equations are written to represent the behaviour of devices which operate according to those principles.
It is very important to develop a technique for writing correct equations so Programme 1 introduces you to a way of improving your chances of doing this first time.You should try to master the skills described in this programme and then apply them to all the remaining programmes in the text and, in fact, to all the equations you ever write in future! Energy sources which provide direct (that is, unchanging) voltages and currents are discussed and mathematical models to represent them introduced. Resistors (components which can conduct the flow of direct currents) are described and the basic rules introduced which allow designers to analyse circuits made up with resistors and direct current and voltage sources.
Many examples of these 'resistive' circuits are analysed and many different techniques for analysing them introduced. In the revision questions throughout the programmes and in the tests at the ends you can practise the skills you acquire as you go along. The further questions provide more chances for you to practise these analytical techniques but also include a number of examples where you will have the opportunity to put the skills to use in a design context. In later programmes you will learn how to use very similar techniques to analyse the behaviour of a much wider range of circuits so it is vital that you understand these two programmes before proceeding.
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