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Scale modeling article champions use of physical models

I’m excited to share with you an article detailing the benefits of using physical models, even in an ever increasing digital world.

In particular, this article looks at universities using scale modeling in engineering and related sciences.

Our Emriver Em4 river model is included as an example. If you’re interested in how scale modeling can enhance learning, this article is for you.

The article was written by Professor Susan G. Sterrett, Distinguished Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy at Wichita State University. Susan’s article is titled Role of Scale Models in Engineering Practice and will be published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Engineering.

Susan illustrates the use of configurable physical models in university engineering education that “provide students the opportunity to design, set up and carry out model experiments” in addition to conducting research and analysis.

We are thrilled the Em4 came to mind when Susan was exploring this important topic.

To sum up Susan’s article, here is an excerpt from the abstract:

“Accounts of scale modeling in philosophy rarely provide a correct description of how the practice is actually employed in engineering. This chapter corrects misconceptions about scale modeling often found in the philosophical literature. It also provides an informal explanation of how and why scale modeling works, when it does, in terms of an analogy between geometric similarity of plane figures and similarity of physically similar systems, which is founded on physics rather than on geometry.”

To dive in deeper, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the article: 

“Scale models are used in engineering design and analysis today, and have been used in the profession of engineering for well over a century. The methodology of scale modeling is at least potentially applicable to any field of engineering, technology, or science. It is thus a puzzle that many discussions about models in philosophy of science have (mistakenly) assumed that scale modeling is an obsolete methodology that has been replaced by computer models.”

You can read the entire article on the PhilSci Archive: An archive for preprints in Philosophy of Science here.

Visit Susan’s website to find links to more of her work.

The Em4 is a robust, modular geomorphological research system capable of simulating floodplains, deltas, groundwater processes, and sediment transport. It has many applications for science and teaching 

Learn more about the Em4 and watch videos here.