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PLTW principles of engineering

ABET The recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology.
Absolute Pressure The total pressure exerted on a system, including atmospheric pressure.
Acceleration The rate of change of velocity with respect to time.
Accuracy The condition or quality of being true, correct, or exact; precision; exactness.
Accuracy Degree of conformity of a measure to a standard value.
Active Solar Energy Collection A type of system that uses circulating pumps and fans to collect and distribute heat.
Actual Mechanical Advantage The ratio of the magnitude of the resistance and effort forces applied a system.
Additive Process The process of creating an object by adding small pieces or layers together to make a final product.
Algorithm A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end, especially by a computer.
Alternative Energy Any source of energy other than fossil fuels that is used for constructive purposes.
Ampere The unit of electric current in the meter-kilogram-second system of units. Referred to as amp and symbolized as A.
Analog Signal A signal having the characteristic of being continuous and changing smoothly over a given range, rather than switching suddenly between certain levels.
Analog to Digital Conversion of an analog signal to a digital quantity such as binary.
Assembly A group of machined or handmade parts that fit together to form a self-contained unit.
Atmospheric Pressure The pressure exerted by the weight of the atmosphere above the point of measurement.
Axial Stress A force with its resultant passing through the centroid of a particular section and being perpendicular to the plane of the section. A force in a direction parallel to the long axis of the structure.
Belt A continuous band of tough flexible material used to transmit motion and power within a pulley system.
Biomass Plant materials and animal waste used especially as a source of fuel.
Boyle’s Law The volume of a gas at constant temperature varies inversely with the pressure exerted on it.
Brainstorming A group technique for solving problems, generating ideas, stimulating creative thinking, etc., by unrestrained spontaneous participation in discussion.
Breaking Stress The stress required to fracture a material whether by compression, tension, or shear.
Cable A strong rope, usually made of metal, designed to have great tensile strength and to be used in structures.
Career A profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.
Centroid The geometric center of an area.
Ceramic Of or relating to the manufacture of any product (as earthenware, porcelain, or brick) made essentially from a nonmetallic mineral (as clay) by firing at a high temperature.
Chain A series of usually metal links or rings connected to or fitted into one another and used to transmit motion and power within a sprocket system.
Charles’ Law States that the volume of a confined gas is proportional to its temperature, provided its pressure remains constant.
Check Valve A valve that allows flow in one direction but prevents flow in the opposite direction.
Closed Loop System A control system that considers the output of a system and makes adjustments based on that output.
Codes A systemized body of laws; a set of principles, as of ethics.
Component A part or element of a larger whole.
Composite Solid material which is composed of two or more substances having different physical characteristics and in which each substance retains its identity while contributing desirable properties to the whole.
Compression When a material is reduced in volume by the application of pressure; the reciprocal of the bulk modulus.
Compression Force A body subjected to a push.
Compressor An air pump that compresses air into a receiver tank.
Concurrent Force Systems A force system where all of the forces are applied at a common point on the body or having their lines of action with a common intersection point.
Conduction The transfer of heat within an object or between objects by molecular activity, without any net external motion.
Consensus A general agreement.
Constraint A limit to a design process. Constraints may be such things as appearance, funding, space, materials, and human capabilities.
Convection Process by which, in a fluid being heated, the warmer part of the mass will rise and the cooler portions will sink.
Crank A part of an axle or shaft bent out at right angles, for converting reciprocal to circular motion and vice versa.
Cross-Sectional Area A surface or shape exposed by making a straight cut through something at right angles to the axis.
Current The net transfer of electric charge (electron movement along a path) per unit of time.
Cylinder A device used to convert fluid power into mechanical power in the form of linear motion.
Data Information encoded in a digital form, which is usually stored in an assigned address of a data memory for later use by the processor.
Data Numbers or information describing some characteristic.
Decision Matrix A tool for systematically ranking alternatives according to a set of criteria.
Deformation Any alteration of shape or dimensions of a body caused by stresses, thermal expansion or contraction, chemical or metallurgical transformations, or shrinkage and expansions due to moisture change.
Design Brief A written plan that identifies a problem to be solved, its criteria, and its constraints. The design brief is used to encourage thinking of all aspects of a problem before attempting a solution.
Design Modification A major or minor change in the design of an item, effected in order to correct a deficiency, to facilitate production, or to improve operational effectiveness.
Design Process A systematic problem-solving strategy, with criteria and constraints, used to develop many possible solutions to solve a problem or satisfy human needs and wants and to winnow (narrow) down the possible solutions to one final choice.
Design Statement
Designer A person who designs any of a variety of things. This usually implies the task of creating drawings or in some way using visual cues to organize work.
Destructive Testing Test methods used to examine an object, material, or system causing permanent damage to its usefulness.
Deviation Amount of difference between a value and the mean.
Digital Signal A system of discrete states: high or low, on or off, 1 or 0.
Digital to Analog Conversion of a digital signal to its analog equivalent, such as a voltage.
Direction The direction of a vector is defined by the angle between a reference axis and the arrow’s line of direction.
Directional-Control Valve Used to control which path fluid takes in a circuit.
Displacement A vector quantity giving the straight-line distance and direction from an initial position to a final position.
Distance The total length of path over which the particle travels.
Double-Acting Cylinder A cylinder that can act under pressure in both directions (extend and retract) to move a load.
Efficiency The ratio of useful energy output to the total energy input, or the percentage of the work input that is converted to work output.
Effort Force An external force applied to an object.
Elastic Limit Maximum stress that a material will withstand without permanent deformation.
Electrical Energy Energy caused by the movement of electrons.
Electricity The flow of electrical power or charge.
Electrolysis The process separating the hydrogen-oxygen bond in water using an electrical current.
Electromagnet A conductor wrapped around an iron core. The two ends of the conductor are attached to a power source. When current passes through the conductor, the iron core becomes magnetized.
Electromagnetic Energy Energy caused by the movement of light waves.
Electromagnetic Induction The production of electricity in conductors with the use of magnets.
Elongation The fractional increase in a material’s length due to stress in tension or thermal expansion.
Energy A fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work.
Energy The ability to do work.
Energy Conversion Changing one form of energy to another.
Entropy The function of the state of a thermodynamic system whose change in any differential reversible process is equal to the heat absorbed by the system from its surroundings divided by the absolute temperature of the system.
Environmental Protection Agency An organization that works to develop and enforce regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress.
Event The result or outcome of an experiment.
Experiment An activity with observable results.
Factor of Safety The ratio of actual strength to required strength.
Failure Point Condition caused by collapse, break, or bending, so that a structure or structural element can no longer fulfill its purpose.
Fatigue The loss of the load-bearing ability of a material under repeated load application, as opposed to a single load.
Feedback The return to the input of a part of the output of a machine, system, or process (as for producing changes in an electronic circuit that improve performance or in an automatic control device that provide self-corrective action).
Filter A device used to remove contamination from a fluid.
Finishing Machining a surface to size with a fine feed produced in a lathe, milling machine, or grinder.
First Law of Thermodynamics The law that heat is a form of energy, and the total amount of energy of all kinds in an isolated system is constant; it is an application of the principle of conservation of energy. Also known as conservation of energy.
Fixed Support A support that prevents translation and rotation in a beam.
Flange A broad ridge or pair of ridges projecting at a right angle from the edge of a structural shape in order to strengthen or stiffen it.
Flow Meter A device used to measure flow rate.
Flow Rate The volume of fluid that moves through a system in a given period of time.
Flow Velocity The distance the fluid travels through a system in a given period of time.
Flowchart A diagram that shows step-by-step progression through a procedure or system especially using connecting lines and a set of conventional symbols.
Flow-Control Valve Used to start and stop flow in a circuit.
Fluid Power The use of a fluid (liquid or gas) to transmit power from one location to another.
Forming A process that changes the size and shape of a material by a combination of force and a shaped form.
Fossil Fuel A natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms.
Free Body Diagram A diagram used to isolate a body from its environment, showing all external forces acting upon it.
Free Fall The condition of unrestrained motion in a gravitational field.
Frequency Distribution Listing of data values along with their corresponding frequencies.
Friction The resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.
Fuel Cell Stack Individual fuel cells that are combined in series.
Fulcrum The fixed point around which a lever rotates.
Gay-Lussac’s Law The absolute pressure of a confined gas is proportional to its temperature, provided its volume stays constant.
Gear A circular toothed object used to transfer rotary motion and torque through interlocking teeth.
Generator A dynamo or similar machine for converting mechanical energy into electricity.
Geothermal Energy The use of heat from within the Earth or from the atmosphere near oceans.
Gravitational Energy The state when objects are not yet in motion.
Gusset A plate or bracket for strengthening an angle in framework.
Heat Energy in transit due to a temperature difference between the source from which the energy is coming and a sink toward which the energy is going.
Hooke’s Law The law stating that the stress of a solid is directly proportional to the strain applied to it.
Hydraulics The use of a liquid flowing under pressure to transmit power from one location to another.
Ideal Mechanical Advantage Ratio of distance traveled by the applied effort and resistance force within a system.
Idler Gear A gear positioned between the driver and the driven gear used to change rotational direction.
Inclined Plane A flat surface set at an angle or an incline with no moving parts that is able to lift objects by pushing or pulling the load.
Induction The production of an electric or magnetic state by the proximity (without contact) of an electrified or magnetized body.
Inexhaustible Energy An energy source that will never run out.
Input Information fed into a data processing system or computer.
Interface The place at which independent and often unrelated systems meet and act on or communicate with each other.
Joint The connection points of members of a truss.
Kelvin A unit of absolute temperature and symbolized as K. Formerly known as degree Kelvin.
Kinetic Energy Energy which a body possesses by virtue of being in motion.
Lever A rigid bar used to exert a pressure or sustain a weight at one point of its length by the application of a force at a second and turning at a third on a fulcrum.
Liability Anything for which a person is legally bound or responsible.
Line of Best Fit A straight line that best represents all data points of a scatter plot. This line may pass through some, all, or none of the points displayed by the scatter plot. Also referred to as a Trend Line or Regression Line.
Lubricator A device used to spray an oil mist into the stream of a pneumatic system.
Magnitude The absolute value of a number.
Manufacturing To make into a product suitable for use; to make from raw materials by hand or by machinery; to produce according to an organized plan and with division of labor.
Material The elements, constituents, or substances of which something is composed or can be made; matter that has qualities which give it individuality and by which it may be categorized.
Mean The sum of a set of values divided by the number of values.
Mean Deviation Measure of variation equal to the sum of the deviations of each value from the mean.
Mechanical Properties Those properties of a material that reveal the elastic and inelastic reaction when force is applied, or that involve the relationship between stress and strain; for example, the modulus of elasticity, tensile strength, and fatigue limit.
Mechanism The structure of or the relationship of the parts in a machine, or in a construction or process comparable to a machine.
Median Middle value of a set of values arranged in order of magnitude.
Member Slender straight pieces of a truss connected by joints.
Metals Any of various opaque, fusible, ductile, and typically lustrous substances that are good conductors of electricity and heat.
Method of Joints A method of analysis of trusses which constructs free body diagrams of each joint and determines the forces acting in that joint by considering equilibrium of the joint pin.
Microprocessor The central processing unit that is generally made from a single integrated circuit.
Mode The value that occurs most frequently.
Modulus of Elasticity The ratio of the increment of some specified form of stress to the increment of some specified form of strain, such as Young's modulus, the bulk modulus, or the shear modulus. Also known as coefficient of elasticity, elasticity modulus, elastic modulus.
Moment The turning effect of a force about a point equal to the magnitude of the force times the perpendicular distance from the point to the line of action from the force.
Moment of Inertia A mathematical property of a cross section that is concerned with a surface area and how that area is distributed about a centroidal axis.
Newton’s First Law Every body or particle continues at a state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces acting upon it.
Newton’s Second Law The change of motion of the body is proportional to the net force imposed on the body and is in the direction of the net force.
Newton’s Third Law If one body exerts a force on a second body, then the second body exerts a force on the first body which is equal in magnitude, opposite in direction, and collinear.
Nondestructive Testing Test methods used to examine an object, material, or system without impairing its future usefulness.
Nonrenewable Energy A resource that cannot be replaced once used.
Normal Distribution Bell-shaped probability distribution.
Normally Closed The contact of a relay that is closed when the coil is de-energized.
Normally Open The contact of a relay that is open when the coil is de-energized.
NTC Resistor A negative temperature coefficient, also known as a thermistor, is a sensitive resistor whose primary function is to exhibit a change in electric resistance with a change in temperature.
Ohm The unit of electric resistance in the meter-kilogram-second system of units. Symbolized as Ω.
Ohm’s Law States that the direct current flowing in an electric circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied to the circuit.
Open Loop System A control circuit in which the system output has no effect on the control.
Open-Ended ¬Not having fixed limits; unrestricted; broad.
Output The information produced by a computer.
Parallel Circuit A closed electrical circuit in which the current is divided into two or more paths and then returns via a common path to complete the circuit.
Pascal’s Law Pressure exerted by a confined fluid acts undiminished equally in all directions.
Passive Solar Energy Collection Systems that do not make use of any externally powered, moving parts, such as circulation pumps, to move heated water or air.
Photocell A photo-sensitive resistor whose resistance decreases as the light striking the unit increases.
Physical Properties Properties other than mechanical properties that pertain to the physics of a material and can usually be measured without the application of force.
Pictorial Sketch A sketch that shows an object’s height, width, and depth in a single view.
Pinned Support A support that prevents translation in any direction.
Piston A sliding piece moved by or moving against fluid pressure which usually consists of a short cylindrical body fitting within a cylindrical chamber or vessel along which it moves back and forth.
Pitch Distance between adjacent threads in a screw.
Planar Truss A truss that lies in a single plane often used to support roofs and bridges.
Pneumatics The use of gas flowing under pressure to transmit power from one location to another.
Polarity The type of charge an atomic particle has.
Polymers Any of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule.
Potential Energy The energy that a piece of matter has because of its position or nature or because of the arrangement of parts.
Potentiometer A switch that can provide variable motion control. It can vary the resistance within the switch, which affects both the current and voltage flowing out of the switch.
Power The rate at which work is performed or energy is expended.
Power Converter Changes one form of power to another.
Power Grid A system that links electricity produced in power stations to deliver it to where it is needed.
Pressure The force per unit area exerted by a fluid against a surface.
Pressure Regulator A type of pneumatic pressure control valve that controls the maximum pressure in a branch of a circuit.
Pressure Relief Valve A type of pressure control valve that limits the maximum pressure in a hydraulic or pneumatic circuit.
Probability Measure of the likelihood that a given event will occur.
Problem Solving The ability to get answers to questions through a conscious, organized process. The answers are usually, but not necessarily, quantitative.
Problem Statement A part of a design brief that clearly and concisely identifies a client’s or target consumer’s problem, need, or want.
Process Control To monitor and control a process so that the quality of the output/product improves.
Product Development Lifecycle Stages a product goes through from concept and use to eventual withdrawal from the market place.
Product Life Cycle Stages a product goes through from concept and use to eventual withdrawal from the marketplace.
Programmable Logic Controller A specialized heavy-duty computer system used for process control in factories, chemical plants, and warehouses. Closely associated with traditional relay logic. Also called a programmable controller (PC).
Proportional Limit Point at which the deformation is no longer directly proportional to the applied force. Hooke’s Law no longer applies.
Pulley A type of lever that is a wheel with a groove in its rim, which is used to change the direction or multiply a force exerted by a rope or cable.
Pump A device used to create flow in a hydraulic system.
Purpose The reason for which something is done or for which something exists.
Purpose The reason for which something is done or for which something exists.
Quality Assurance The use of quality control techniques associated with a process.
Quality Control Operational techniques necessary to satisfy all quality requirements; includes process monitoring and the elimination of root causes of unsatisfactory product or service quality performance.
Radiation The process by which energy is transmitted through a medium, including empty space, as electromagnetic waves. This energy travels at the speed of light. This is also referred to as electromagnetic radiation.
Raw Material Crude or processed material that can be converted by manufacture, processing, or combination into a new and useful product; something with a potential for improvement, development, or elaboration.
Receiver Tank A device that holds the compressed air in a pneumatic system.
Recycling Returning to an original condition. The extraction and recovery of valuable materials from scrap or other discarded materials.
Reed Switch An electromagnetically operated switching device.
Reliability The probability that a component part, equipment, or system will satisfactorily perform its intended function under given circumstances.
Reliability The probability of satisfactory operation of the product in a given environment over a specified time interval.
Renewable Energy A resource that can be replaced when needed.
Reservoir The tank that holds the fluid in a hydraulic system.
Resilience A mechanical property of a material that shows how effective the material is absorbing mechanical energy without sustaining any permanent damage.
Resistance The opposition that a device or material offers to the flow of direct current.
Resistance Force Impeding effect exerted by one material object on another.
Resultant Force The resultant of a system of force is the vector sum of all forces.
Roller Support A support that only prevents a beam from translating in one direction.
Rotor The rotating member of an electrical machine.
Rupture Strength Nominal stress developed in a material at rupture. Not necessarily equal to ultimate strength. Since necking is not taken into account in determining rupture strength, seldom indicates true stress at rupture.
R-value The measure of resistance to heat flow.
Sample Space A set of all possible outcomes or events in an experiment that cannot be further broken down.
Scalar A physical quantity that has magnitude only.
Screw An inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder, forming the path and pitch.
Second Law of Thermodynamics A general statement of the idea that there is a preferred direction for any process.
Sense The sense of a vector is the direction of the vector relative to its path and indicated by the location of the arrow.
Sensor A device that responds to a physical stimulus (as heat, light, sound, pressure, magnetism, or a particular motion) and transmits a resulting impulse (as for measurement or operating a control).
Series Circuit A circuit in which all parts are connected end to end to provide a single path of current.
Shear Stress A measure of how easily a material can be twisted.
Simple Machine Any of various elementary mechanisms including the lever, the wheel and axle, the pulley, the inclined plane, the wedge, and the screw.
Simple Truss A truss composed of triangles, which will retain its shape even when removed from supports.
Single-Acting Cylinder A cylinder that acts under pressure in one direction only and returns automatically when the pressure is released.
Sketch A rough drawing representing the main features of an object or scene and often made as a preliminary study.
Solenoid A switching device that uses the magnetic field generated by an electrical current for actuation.
Solid Modeling A type of 3D CAD modeling that represents the volume of an object, not just its lines and surfaces. This allows for analysis of the object’s mass properties.
Speed The magnitude of the total distance traveled divided by the time elapsed.
Sprocket A toothed wheel whose teeth engage the links of a chain.
Standard Deviation A statistical measurement of variability.
Static Equilibrium A condition where there are no net external forces acting upon a particle or rigid body and the body remains at rest or continues at a constant velocity.
Statically Indeterminate A structure or body which is over-constrained such that there are more unknown supports than there are equations of static equilibrium.
Statistics The collection and analysis of numerical data in large quantities.
Strain Change in the length of an object in some direction per unit.
Stress The force acting across a unit area in a solid material resisting the separation, compacting, or sliding that tends to be induced by external forces.
Stress-Strain Curve Graphical representation of a material’s mechanical properties.
Structure Something made up of interdependent parts in a definite pattern of organization, such as trusses, frames, or machines.
Subroutine A subordinate routine; specifically, a sequence of computer instructions for performing a specified task that can be used repeatedly.
Subtractive Processes that remove material to change the size, shape, or surface of a part. There are two groups of separating processes: machining and shearing.
Switch A device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit.
Synthetic Produced by the combining of parts or elements to form a whole, rather than of natural origin; not real, artificial.
Target Consumer A person or group for which product or service design efforts are intended.
Team A collection of individuals, each with his or her own expertise, brought together to benefit a common goal.
Technical Communication Creating, designing, and transmitting technical information so that people can understand it easily and use it safely, effectively, and efficiently.
Temperature A property of an object which determines the direction of heat flow when the object is placed in thermal contact with another object.
Tension The condition of a string, wire, or rod that is stretched between two points.
Tension Force A body subjected to a pull.
Thermal Equilibrium Refers to the property of a thermodynamic system in which all parts of the system have attained a uniform temperature which is the same as that of the system’s surroundings.
Thermodynamic System A part of the physical world as described by its thermodynamic properties such as temperature, volume, pressure, concentration, surface tension, and viscosity.
Thermodynamics The study of the effects of work, heat, and energy on a system.
Tolerance The difference between the maximum and minimum dimensions allowed within the design of a product.
Torque A force that produces or tends to produce rotation or torsion.
Toughness Mechanical property of a material that indicates the ability of the material to handle overloading before it fractures.
Transistor A solid-state switching device.
Transmission Lines Used to transport fluid in a circuit.
Turbine A machine for producing power in which a wheel or rotor is made to revolve by a fast-moving flow of water, steam, gas, or air.
Ultimate Stress Sometimes referred to as tensile strength; determined by measuring the maximum load a material specimen can carry when in the shape of a rectangular bar or cylindrical can.
U-value A measure of thermal transmittance through a material.
Valve Any device that controls, either automatically or manually, the flow of a fluid.
Variance The difference between samples.
Vector Quantity A quantity that has both a magnitude and direction.
Velocity A vector quantity that includes the speed and direction of an object.
Viscosity A measure of a fluid’s thickness or resistance to flow.
Volt The unit of potential difference symbolized as V.
Voltage The potential difference measured in volts. The amount of work to be done to move a charge from one point to another along an electric circuit.
Volume The amount or quantity of something.
Wedge A substance that tapers to a thin edge and is used for splitting, raising heavy bodies, or for tightening by being driven into something.
Wheel and Axle Two different sized circular objects that are attached together and turn as one.
Work A result of a force moving an object a certain distance.
Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics A law that if two systems are separately found to be in thermal equilibrium with a third system, the first two systems are in thermal equilibrium with each other.
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