The Need for Graduate Education in
Computational Engineering in the U.S.
Computers are becoming critically important as a tool for engineering analysis and design, especially in the areas of engineering science related to field physics such as solid and fluid mechanics, electromagnetics, and acoustics. Numerical solution of the systems of governing equations associated with field physics has not been feasible for practical engineering geometries until recently. As computer hardware and solution algorithms have advanced in capability, it has become increasingly common to solve complex systems of equations governing field phenomena, including systems of multidimensional partial differential equations. This evolution is transforming the practice of engineering by introducing a computational paradigm for analysis and design that is now on a par with experimental and classical analytical approaches.
These developments raise certain issues pertinent to engineering education. For example, the problem-solving software and methodology have become very sophisticated, and interdisciplinary skills are now important in its application. Lack of knowledge of basic concepts and/or appreciation for the computational procedures behind software tools can present obstacles to effective use of the software and has even caused serious mistakes in design and analysis. The UTC Computational Engineering M.S. and Ph.D. programs will give students a cross-disciplinary perspective to the physical and computational concepts and techniques involved in solving field-related engineering problems and will prepare them for encounters with this category of problem-solving software.
The educational program must focus on developing high levels of expertise in the computational methodology used to solve real-world problems. The necessary background is provided by a unifying cross-disciplinary perspective of the physics, geometry, mathematics, solution algorithms, visualization techniques, and computing systems used for field simulation.