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Computer Applications to Problem Solving in Some Engineering Technology Courses

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative Curriculum In Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.361.1 - 22.361.15



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Paper Authors


S. Sridhara Middle Tennessee State University

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Dr. Sridhara is a Professor in the Engineering Technology Department at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He received his B.S.M.E. degree from Bangalore University, India and M.S.M.E. degrees from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. Dr. Sridhara received his Ph.D. from Auburn University, Alabama. He has published several articles in the areas of acoustics, vibration, noise control and engineering education. Dr. Sridhara has reviewed several articles and books in his area of expertise.

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Computer Applications to Problem Solving in Some Engineering Technology CoursesAbstractUse of computers and the Internet in our teaching and learning have proved to be veryeffective for both students and instructors. The author is currently using Desire2Learn(D2L) to teach Engineering Technology (ET) courses such as Statics, Dynamics, Strengthof Materials, Design of Machine Elements, Vibration and CADD. Typically, he solvesnumerical problems related to the equilibrium of particles and rigid bodies, design ofshafts, pulleys and gears, and free and forced vibration of mechanical systems. Recentlythe author developed some Excel programs to solve problems in the class as handcalculations are time consuming. These programs can be easily modified to solve severalother problems in a particular course or area. In the class some problems are solvedusing hand calculations to teach the principles and methodology and additional problemsare solved using the Excel programs. In Statics the students learn to calculate theposition vectors and their magnitudes, the unit vectors, and the force vectors. They arealso taught to formulate and solve the force equilibrium equations. In Design of MachineElements the students learn to design shafts and belt drives for different types of loadsconsidering the cross section, and shape, size, stress and material factors. In Vibrationthe students study undamped and damped vibrating systems. They learn to solveproblems for the given mass, stiffness, damping factor and initial conditions using Exceland graph the oscillatory motion. This fall the author is using the Excel programs inStatics and Vibration and will use them in Design of Machine Elements next semester.The programs were developed in Excel because the software is available at all universitycomputers. Also, students can afford to buy it for their home computers or laptops. Testswill be given in a computer lab so that the students can use Excel to solve problems andsubmit them electronically. Tests will be designed to accommodate those students wholike to do hand calculations only. The author helps the students work in teams anddevelop their own Excel programs. He has found that for a given problem Excel takesabout one-tenth of the solution time required for hand calculations. In Vibration andDesign of Machine Elements the author has been assigning individual data for the take-home part of the tests and the final exam so that the students get the experience ofworking independently. Excel makes grading very easy particularly in such courses. Theuse of Excel programs and D2L for problem solving and course management helps uscomply with the ABET recommendation regarding computer applications in our teachingand learning. They also address some of ABET’s a-z criteria including the ability tosolve problems in their major field and team work. We will also compare theperformance of those students who use Excel and the others who do hand calculationsonly and study the impact of the computer applications on student learning outcome.

Sridhara, S. (2011, June), Computer Applications to Problem Solving in Some Engineering Technology Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17642

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