June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.108.1 - 13.108.8
A Spreadsheet Template with Scaled Graph Options Useful for Engineering Classes
This paper describes a spreadsheet template using Microsoft Office Excel® with scaled graph capabilities. This template permits the students organize their calculations and print-out and make scaled graphs, which are necessary for a better understanding of an engineering problem.
The template has two parts. The first part is prepared to make the necessary calculations with a format typically used in engineering offices. The second part permits scaled graphs useful to represent the problem and its solution. Both parts may be linked using the capabilities of Excel®.
When the student finishes an engineering problem using this template it is expected a calculation sheet with a professional presentation. However, the instructor must encourage that each step necessary for the calculation shall be clearly explained and documented.
A survey performed show the acceptation of the template by the students, and the adaptation of this tool to different subjects and for the workplace.
The spreadsheet Microsoft Office Excel®1 is a powerful tool that may be used to solve engineering problems, principally because it has a significant number of useful functions, it is user-friendly, and because it comes with the computer program Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which may be used to create macros, functions or solve problems involving iterations, conditionals or loops. However, if the spreadsheet is not planned the output may be difficult to read and understand by others.
An ideal calculation spreadsheet must show the input, the references about the formulae, conclusive results, and a scaled graph showing the data and the results. The spreadsheet must be printed-out in an easy to read format with a professional presentation. It is an advantage for the students to use a template with these important characteristics, which will permit them to make interesting spreadsheets to solve engineering problems in a presentable manner.
Description of the Spreadsheet Template
The spreadsheet template presented in this paper has two important parts, the first is used for the calculations and the second one is used to make a scaled graph of the problem studied. This tool was developed with Excel-03 and tested successfully with the latest version, Excel-07.
The first part permits to make the necessary calculations to obtain a numerical answer, mainly using Excel® functions. Eventually, if the problem is more complex, the user may use VBA algorithms to solve it. The formatting of the spreadsheet is similar to a calculation sheet used in engineering offices, preparing students to make professional presentations.
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