Authors & Contributors

Teacher Comments: Evidence Required in Engineering

Patrick Fitzhorn, Mechanical Engineering: We use analytic evidence. Engineering is based on a number of first principles like Newton's laws and laws of thermodynamics. Those lead to very mathematical systems and often times we model our systems of interest mathematically and then solve things mathematically to give us insight. We also use and build prototypes to get an understanding of the systems we're interested in. Experiential evidence is also very good. We read and use other people's work to learn what others have tried and have either failed at or succeed at and the reasons why. . . .

Interviewer: Do certain writing contexts demand a specific type of evidence?

Patrick Fitzhorn: Certain writing requirements for specific courses would have specific kinds of evidence. These are related to whatever course we're teaching. In general, we want students to have a tool bag of ways to make decisions and justify decisions. In this tool bag are experience, analytic approaches, prototypes. . . . We want them to pull their tools from the tool bag and apply them to the problem and whatever tool is the best to make the decisions they need to make; that's what we want them to do. In general, we're not looking for specific solution styles. What we're looking the ability for the student to make the decision for themselves.

Neil Grigg, Civil Engineering: Data. Examples. Steel-trap logic. The spectrum is data where you can make a graph of something, independent variable/dependent variable. There's just not any doubt that you've proven something from that. We also use cases as a way to prove something that's slippery as to where you got supporting evidence which is valid.