Here’s a list of 21 free online resources that can make you a smarter engineer – whether you graduated years ago and just need to come up to speed on things you’ve forgotten – or need to catch up on what you missed after nodding out in ChemE class.
Engineering Discipline-Specific Resources
Here is a list of Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering-specific resources on the web.
Chemical Engineering Resources
“Conceptests & Screencast Videos for Chemical Engineering Courses”. Includes tutorials on fluid mechanics, heat transfer, kinetics / reactor design, mass / energy balances, material science, process design, separations, thermodynamics and an FE Review.
Civil Engineering Resources
AboutCivil.org is a vast internet-based repository of civil engineering lectures, tutorials, ebooks, course notes, software, and even a Civil Engineering Wiki. This is a can’t-miss site if you’re a civil engineering student.
Civil Engineer’s Mega Bookmark
This site includes links to thousands of online resources of interest to civil engineers; including research / education, subject-based resources, and building codes and standards for 15 countries.
Structurae is a comprehensive database with a gallery, links, and hundreds of photographs of bridges and other large structures. Visitors are also able to search by function, structure type, and method thousands of bridges and projects around the world. A must-see if you’re a bridge engineer (or studying to be one).
Electrical Engineering Resources
All About Circuits
“This site provides a series of online textbooks covering electricity and electronics. The information provided is great for both students and hobbyists who are looking to expand their knowledge in this field”. The site includes information from the basic concepts of electricity to logic gates to DC circuits. Whether you missed something in EE class or having to go back over something fundamental for your job creating circuit boards, you should be able to find what you need to know here.
EEweb contains an active Electrical Engineering Community forum where you can ask questions and get help on projects. In addition, it offers articles on topics ranging from CMOS to LEDs, RF Design to Opamps. There is something for every electrical engineer to learn here.
The IEEE eLearning Library features more than 300 courses in core and emerging technologies. In 2012, the top courses available were:
- 3G Wireless Systems
- Thinking like a Leader: the TILL System
- Fundamentals of LTE Standards and Technologies
- An Introduction to Sustainable Green Engineering Part 1
- Introduction to Power Electronics
Many colleges and corporations support paid access but guest registration is also available. In total, IEEE Xplore provides more than 3-million full-text publications in electrical engineering, computer science and electronics.
This site is a repository of education, information and resources for electronics engineers. Beyond just articles relevant to electrical engineering, they also maintain a company directory that is tremendously helpful for sourcing materials, as well as an events calendar.
Mechanical Engineering Resources
“MatWeb’s searchable database of material properties includes data sheets of thermoplastic and thermoset polymers such as ABS, nylon, polycarbonate, polyester, polyethylene and polypropylene; metals such as aluminum, cobalt, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel, steel, superalloys, titanium and zinc alloys; ceramics; plus semiconductors, fibers, and other engineering materials.”
MecMovies (to accompany Mechanics of Materials: An Integrated Learning System) is a series of animated illustrations that illustrate concepts… from stress to torsion, axial deform to strain transform. In addition, to being better able to visualize engineered objects, each chapter includes example problems accompanied with an opportunity for the viewer to “try one” interactively.
We posed the question to our Twitter followers (many of whom are engineering students) – what sites do you refer to when you don’t understand class material, or want to expand your engineering knowledge? Several of the Math resources that follow are based on their recommendations.
So whether you need to recover some lost differential equations skills or come up to speed from Algebra to Calculus I on your own… These sites can help you get do this without necessarily hiring an expensive tutor (or going back to school).
PatrickJMT is a site run by a professor at Austin Community College with over 15 years of combined college/ university level teaching and tutoring experience. The tutorials are offered in a video format and the lesson categories include Alegbra, Calculus, Differential Equations, Discrete math, Linear Alegbra, Trigonometry & Probability and Statistics.
My intent is to provide clear and thorough explanations, and to present them in an environment in which the student is comfortable. Although I do not promise to make someone into an A+ student overnight, with regular help just about every student I have encountered makes significant improvements over time. Think about learning math in the same way you would learn to play piano or learn another language: it takes time, patience, and LOTS of practice.
That Tutor Guy
While this site has a pay wall, there’s still a good number of free videos available from Pre-Algebra to Calculus.
The chapters are designed to be self-contained, so if you just need help on one topic, you could probably just watch that chapter. That said, once you figure out which chapter you want to watch, it’s best to start at the beginning of that chapter because everything builds.
Calc Chat, meant to support Ron Larson-authored Calculus textbooks, offers a community where students can ask questions, answer problems, and share solutions 24/7. In addition, it has a solutions portal for step-by-step solutions to odd numbered exercises, and a tutor available 8 hours a day during the school year.
The Math Insight web site contains both narrative pages and interactive applets focusing on the concepts underlying a few topics in mathematics. It has the largest coverage of multivariable calculus, as its origins are from the CSE Multivariable Calculus and Vector Analysis course at the University of Minnesota. Although no effort has been made to turn this into a comprehensive source of information on any topic, the goal is to provide some depth on selected topics, so readers can explore mathematical concepts at different levels, depending on their preparation or interest.
One can view these pages more like a lecture than a textbook. They are not a replacement for a mathematics textbook because they don’t cover all the theoretical details behind the main ideas. For the same reason, they should be easier to understand than a textbook.
CosmoLearning – Math
Similar in scope to the above references, Cosmo Learning offers a number of web-based video tutorials. Unlike the previously mentioned sites, Cosmo Learning has more geometry, trigonometry and statistics material if this is an area of weakness for you.
CosmoLearning – Engineering
This is an excellent general resource for engineers and engineering students of every discipline. Currently, their content supports the following categories:
- Aerospace Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Electronic Engineering
- Energy Industry
- Engineering Geology
- History of Engineering
- Materials Science
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mining Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Ocean Engineering
Wolfram|Alpha should be on the shortlist of bookmarks for anyone involved in an empirical career field or computational field of study. From their about page:
Wolfram|Alpha introduces a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers—
not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods.
Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.
We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.
Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels.
Chegg was another recommendation from one of our Twitter followers.
Chegg offers live community question-and-answers for homework help for free, maintains text-specific solutions manuals and is a place to rent (rather than purchase) textbooks if you need them for only a brief period.
You can’t assemble a list of web-based resources to make you smarter in anything, in 2013, without mentioning Khan Academy.
Khan has a library of now well over 3,000 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics. Of interest, especially, to engineers or engineering students will be their collection of tutorials on computer science, physics, organic chemistry, and math.
Like Khan Academy, MIT’s OpenCourseWare project has become ubiquitous for being a place to ‘enroll’ or ‘take’ MIT-level college courses for free on the web. While you won’t administered any tests or awarded a grade, the access to MIT’s faculty lectures, through video and notes, is outstanding. There are many topics and courses to choose from – but under their “Find by Topic” page you can isolate courses strictly related to energy, engineering, mathematics and science.
Reddit, affectionately referred to as the “front page of the internet,” maintains sub category pages (“sub reddits”) for every conceivable topic imaginable. Among these is a forum to “Ask Engineers.” So long as your questions don’t pertain to Degrees, GPA, University Courses, or Resume (as well as generall keeping the conversation courteous, respectful, and on topic) you’ll have access to the over 15,000 readers / engineers and their collective expertise. So whether you are struggling with a topic you didn’t understand in class or want some feedback from an engineer outside your own discipline on a project you’re working on, /r/AskEngineers will be a great resource for you.
Engineers are individuals who apply the knowledge of science and math to building maintainable systems/devices to solve problems. AskEngineers is about getting common questions about devices/systems answered.
If you have questions related to science/math you may want to try these reddits:
Some Systems Engineers also design IT systems and/or applications. If you’re asking a programming question please try the programming reddit. /r/Programming
For more general engineering discussions, please head over to /r/Engineering
For questions regarding engineering school, also try posting in /r/EngineeringStudents
What Free Web Resources do you have bookmarked?
Are you an engineer or engineering student? We’d love to hear what resources you have bookmarked to brush up on subjects or get answers to the tough questions. Please drop a comment below.Photo credit: jennypdx