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Applying Software Tools Throughout The Curriculum

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.232.1 - 8.232.11



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Paper Authors

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Garth Thomas

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

Session 2793

Applying Engineering Software Tools Throughout the Curriculum

Garth E. Thomas Jr.

Chemical Engineering Department West Virginia University Institute of Technology Montgomery, WV 25136


There is no aspect of modern engineering practice that does not make use of computer-based tools. This has created an expectation that graduates from engineering programs will have strong computing skills. Graduates can be provided with these skills by integrating the application of software tools throughout the engineering curriculum. This paper describes how the application of software tools has been integrated into a typical chemical engineering curriculum. Where, how, and why each software tool is used are discussed, as well as the extent of formal instruction provided for each tool.

The approach described in this paper requires software tools to be introduced early into the curriculum, used in all of the courses, and used together wherever appropriate. Software is employed that covers a range of applications: mathematical analysis, statistical analysis, process simulation, data acquisition, process control, graphical communication, and document preparation. The applications increase in level of difficulty as the students progress through the curriculum. This approach requires faculty members that are familiar with the software and can develop course work that effectively employs it.

Course assessment and survey instruments indicate that the students have developed strong computer application skills, and that one of the primary learning outcomes of the program has been achieved. The best students become very proficient in the use of software tools, while the average student is able to use them effectively.


There are two primary motivators for making significant use of software throughout the curriculum. The first is the value to the students in terms of enhancing their professional skills. Engineering graduates are expected to be able to effectively use computers and software in professional practice. A recent report by the CACHE Corporation(1) details the required skills: “1. know how to use a modern technical library to search for information located in electronic databases, and how to access electronic information services through the World Wide Web. “Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Thomas, G. (2003, June), Applying Software Tools Throughout The Curriculum Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11532

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