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Verulam

The teaching of structures Professor W. M. Jenkins writes to say that we have ourselves, in our comments on his letter which appeared in June, misinterpreted his intentions in relation to his discussion of the paper by Jennings & Gilbert published in The Structural Engineer in January 1988. He says that he had not had it in mind that opportunity should be taken to ‘go way beyond’ what is presently taught in undergraduate courses, nor did he think that this had been seriously suggested. He goes on to amplify his thoughts: Rather we should grasp the opportunity to relieve our courses of the need to accumulate vast experience in manual analysis of structures and replace this with a more fundamental, in-depth treatment of theory and with studies in structural synthesis and modelling for computer analysis. More time spent on structural materials would also be useful! Mathematics in the undergraduate curriculum has always gone beyond the actual requirements of the engineering theory so there is no need for more mathematics. However, the content and sequencing of mathematics will continue to need to fit the requirements of the engineering subjects. A working party of polytechnic and university staff, chaired by Professor Bob Cope of Plymouth, has recently produced a draft report on this matter and included in its remit ‘... to make a realistic assessment of the present and future place of computer-based techniques’. Undoubtedly, the current situation requires a fundamental review of the need for mathematics in the undergraduate curriculum. Verulam