Teaching Physical System Modeling at the University of Arizona


This paper deals with the subject of teaching university students the art of physical system modeling, a topic notoriously downplayed in the education of our future scientists and engineers. It is shown that, although modeling is truly an "art" and not a "science," it is not a "black art," i.e., it is a subject that can indeed be taught successfully, since it observes a set of general rules and practices - almost like a science. Moreover, computer programs can be provided that gently push the user towards following recommended procedures in the making of physically sound models, that help him or her in verifying the consistency and completeness of these models, and support him or her in detecting errors and unraveling shortcomings in them.