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Applications Of Math Software In Engineering Courses

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Enhancing Engineering Math with Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.217.1 - 7.217.5

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Paper Authors

author page

Glen Smerage

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Glen Smerage University of Florida


Commercial mathematical softwares provide effective means for presenting and employing mathematics in undergraduate engineering courses. Applications include lecture aid, demonstration, learning exercises, and evaluation of student learning. In engineering, the forms of those applications are problem solving, simulation, and design, all of which typically are well suited to mathematical software.

The author has employed mathematical software in engineering courses for eight years, initially as a lecture aid and, over the past four years, in active learning and productive work by students. The courses involve analyses of functions, including integration, differentiation and graphing, and formulation and simulation of mathematical models. Those activities are performed by students and instructor exclusively at computers using a commercial mathematical software and supported by on-line knowledgebases. Each complete analysis produces a document. Instructor documents and knowledgebases are distributed via a Web server. Student documents are transferred between student and instructor via e-mail attachment. The instructor evaluates student work at a computer in the mathematical software.

Use of computers and mathematical software in courses has significantly improved instruction and student learning. It has also extended the computer skills of students. This paper discusses, demonstrates, and characterizes the author’s methods for using mathematical software in undergraduate engineering education.

Commercial Mathematical Software

Several mathematical softwares are available commercially for applications to engineering education; Mathcad 1, Mathematica2, and Matlab3 are just three examples. In selecting a software, an instructor should at least consider capabilities for producing verbal text, passive mathematical text, and active mathematics as well as the range of mathematical operations provided.

A particular mathematical analysis (problem) performed in a mathematical software produces a document. The reading and understanding of the document are facilitated by narrative (verbal text) throughout. Any mathematical derivations in the document

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ” 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Smerage, G. (2002, June), Applications Of Math Software In Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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