What engineering textbooks?

For the educators and students involved in engineering classes, what textbooks and curricular materials are you using these days? I’ve never taught from a textbook, but without lab access and with students working at home, I’m looking at various options. I’d like to find a sort of single-source curricular package for this one high school class I’m teaching. Students are mostly grade 11, but a few grade 10 as well. If you use a textbook or other curricular resource in your engineering class, let me know which one and how you like it. This is for a non FRC class.


My classes in HS used PLTW, which had no textbook but tons of printout worksheets.

Hopefully you find something better for your students.


My high school also uses PLTW for both computer science and engineering. I’ve never taken the engineering courses, but the computer science courses are very well structured, allowing me to take one on my own without an instruction from a teacher.

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“Engineering” is a pretty broad subject, and you’re probably going to need to be more specific.

That said, Shigley’s Mechanical Engineering Design is a solid textbook for mechanical engineering. It costs its weight in gold though.


For my Mechanical Engineering degree at Technion Institute of Technology we use Shigley’s Mechanical Engineering Design. I’m a big fan; I use it for FRC stuff pretty often as well. It probably goes into more depth than is needed for FRC, but if students are interested in learning about mechanical engineering it’s got pretty much all the answers. Going through the table of contents, it covers:

  • calculating loads
  • material properties
  • stresses and deflection
  • static and fatigue failures
  • shafts
  • bolts and welds
  • springs
  • bearings and bushings
  • gears
  • clutches, brakes, and flywheels
  • belt and chain

It’s a university textbook so it isn’t cheap, but you can find used copies in good condition for not-too-expensive. And it is online in a number of places if you know where to look

Edit: sniped by @BordomBeThyName


Ah yes, Shigley’s. I think it might be a bit much for high school students though. I’m looking for a text that may have a broad overview of engineering, and/or one that may incorporate elements of design, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, engineering principles, or product development.

I think if you’re selective about which chapters you teach, Shigley can be accessible to high school students. Intro ME topics like material properties or statics require just about zero calculus, and should be well covered.


^+1. This.

Engineering materials can be taught in a way that is no more complex than the usual high school chemistry. Statics is just a practical application of algebra.

Amir Abo-Shaeer and his colleagues in Goleta are doing this now.

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PLTW Principles of Engineering is a survey course for embedded programming, circuits, simple machines, statics, materials and thermal dynamics. It also has a quarterly exercise to explore engineering careers. The course originated from a text which is now an online pacing guide. It is complimented with instructor training and presentations.

It is radically different than Shigley’s in terms of far greater breadth and far less mathematics. It is also high school level rather than college level.

I’ve also heard some mixed reviews of PLTW from students.

I don’t think the program’s inherently flawed, but most of the feedback I get is from robotics students, who already know a good chunk of the material. Additionally, there definitely seems to be variance on how well the instructor can connect the material back to practical things the students are already familiar with and deem important.

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