June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Computers in Education
12.19.1 - 12.19.11
A Comparison of Engineering and Technology Course use of Educational Software and Industrial Software Packages
The purpose of this paper is to compare the use of educational software and industrial software packages that are included in engineering and technology courses of a four-year university. The educational software includes SPICE and Electronics Work Bench / Multisim circuit simulation software student and educational versions, and Visual Basic and the National Instruments LabVIEW student and educational versions. The industrial software includes the Intergraph Smart Plant Electrical industrial version. Advantages and disadvantages of the use of the types of software are considered. How each type of software is used to improve the curriculum and teaching practices is discussed. Innovative learning strategies and student project work are given.
Many of the students in the four-year university programs have a wide range of technical experience and academics. These students often also work in quite different professions while attending courses at the university even though most program graduates will later work in the engineering field. Due to this background diversity the students have quite a wide range of experience with various software packages. The students have typically learned the educational software packages earlier in lower level courses that are often have been taken at other schools from which they transferred. Most of the students have learned industrial software packages through their jobs in industry. Many of the students work concurrently in industry while completing their university studies.
Development of the use of educational and industrial software packages includes both enhancing preexisting knowledge and creating more advanced understanding of concepts and applications. One way to accomplish this is to have students work in groups extensively throughout the entire course. This group work greatly helps to increase the student understanding of both types of software packages through intra group and inter group exchange of knowledge.
The advantage of the use of educational software is that the educational packages are more likely to promote the broad use of programming concepts. This includes programming and creating designs through the use of mnemonics, functional blocks, and symbols. This in contrast to industrial software which often may not strongly encourage the general development of programming skills and can limit the learning experience to specific applications of the package details to create designs. Industrial design software applications typically must be made using preprogrammed symbols, steps, functions, and so on. While educational software packages in general encourage use of programming skills more than industrial packages, it is important to note that some industrial software packages do require the learning of specific programming concepts. This industrial package programming, however, is typically limited and within a certain framework. The main advantage of using specific industrial software is that once the software package is learned, it becomes an efficient tool that can be efficiently used for specific designs. In addition, it is very important to note that the knowledge of industrial software tools is a very valuable asset for students when they become employed by industry. Student group exercises and projects are given that use various software packages.
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