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Computer Applications For Engineers : Teaching Organizational, Problem Solving And Checking Skills To Freshmen Engineering Technology Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Computer ET Innovation

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.321.1 - 13.321.16



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Paper Authors


David Forsman Pennsylvania State University-Erie

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David R. Forsman is a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Penn State Erie. He received his B.S. in Engineering Technology from the Pennsylvania State University and his M.E. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from SUNY, Buffalo. He has been involved with engineering computer analysis since 1974. He has experience in teaching Computer-Graphics, Programming, CAD and Rapid Prototyping for the last 23 years.

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

Computer Applications for Engineers : Teaching Organizational, Problem Solving and Checking Skills to Freshmen Engineering Technology Students


Students in Engineering Technology programs usually are required to take some sort of computer course, such as a programming or an applications course their first semester. A significant number of these students feel they are qualified to solve problems using a computer as a tool based on a prior high school course in Excel or simply because the traditional college freshmen is steeped in the use of the Internet and has played video games. However, many of these students generally do not realize that they have not developed the study, organizational or problem solving skills required for effectively solving engineering programs with computer technologies.

This paper will describe the methods used to teach a Computer Applications for Technologists course using Excel and Mathcad. The paper will detail the methodologies developed for teaching students to effectively write a spreadsheet using Excel and develop a worksheet for Mathcad. The requirement of using different programs to produce exactly the same result for the same problem forces students to become involved in self learning in the sense that they can no longer simply accept partial credit for incorrect work as if they did not know the answer was wrong. They must now develop the skills to determine if the answer is somewhat plausible, and for most students, to learn how to analyze, test and debug their programs in order to produce what they know is the correct result. The net result are students that are capable of using Excel and Mathcad effectively as a tool for future courses as well as having the ability to recognize and correct problems on their own.


MET 107, Computer Applications for Technologists is a first semester freshman course that meets for one hour fifty minute periods, twice a week for fifteen weeks. The course structure is basically a half hour demonstration/lecture on a specific topic with the rest of the class period devoted to a hands on work session. This course assumes no prior knowledge of any application software, but does require that the students have a background in a computer operating system so that they are familiar with files, folders and starting applications.

The course objectives are as follows: 1. Create technical documents containing properly formatted text, figures, drawings, tables, graphs and/or equations using Microsoft Office products; 2. Create properly formatted worksheets to solve basic engineering problems through the use of cell formulas and functions; 3. Create formatted graphs of one or more data series using spreadsheet software; 4. Use worksheet tools and techniques to solve equations, systems of equations, maximum and minimum of a function, the roots of a function and areas using the trapezoid rule; 5. Record and use custom macros in a spreadsheet program;

Forsman, D. (2008, June), Computer Applications For Engineers : Teaching Organizational, Problem Solving And Checking Skills To Freshmen Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4467

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