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Improving Problem Solving Skills Through Adapting Programming Tools

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

MIND - Poster Session

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.858.1 - 12.858.15



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Paper Authors


Linda Shaykhian NASA

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Linda H. Shaykhian
Linda Shaykhian is a computer engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Kennedy Space Center (KSC). She is currently co-lead of the Information Architecture team for the Constellation Program’s Launch Site Command and Control System Proof of Concept project. She was lead of the Core Technical Capability Laboratory Management System project, which is currently used for resource management and funding of KSC Core Technical Capability laboratories. She was the Software Design Lead and Software Integrated Product Team Lead for the Hazardous Warning System on KSC’s Checkout and Launch Control System Project. Linda has been involved in various other software projects at Kennedy Space Center and also has a background in quality assurance. She has earned both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Computer Science.

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Gholam Ali Shaykhian NASA

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

Improving Problem Solving Skills through Adapting Programming Tools


There are numerous ways for engineers and students to become better problem-solvers. The use of command line and visual programming tools can help to model a problem and formulate a solution through visualization. The analysis of problem attributes and constraints provide insight into the scope and complexity of the problem. The visualization aspect of the problem-solving approach tends to make students and engineers more systematic in their thought process and help them catch errors before proceeding too far in the wrong direction. The problem-solver identifies and defines important terms, variables, rules, and procedures required for solving a problem. Every step required to construct the problem solution can be defined in program commands that produce intermediate output.

This paper advocates improved problem solving skills through using a programming tool. MatLab, created by MathWorks, is an interactive numerical computing environment and programming language. It is a matrix-based system that easily lends itself to matrix manipulation and plotting of functions and data. MatLab can be used as an interactive command line or a sequence of commands that can be saved in a file as a script or named functions. Prior programming experience is not required to use MatLab. MatLab visual and command programming are presented here. The GNU Octave, part of the GNU project, a free computer program for performing numerical computations, is comparable to MatLab.

MatLab Programming Language

The easy-to-use computing environment of MatLab, along with the availability of thousands of built-in functions for mathematics, statistics, simulation, data analysis and general purpose programming, has rendered it a popular software tool for many engineers and scientists in various fields. MatLab is a dynamically typed language [8]. In a dynamically typed language, impending errors are caught at run-time. MATLAB is delivered as part of an integrated computing environment facilitating programming in three different ways, known as shell, script and function. Shell, a single command line typed directly from a keyboard, uses hundreds of pre-built mathematical functions. MatLab programming constructs (decision statements, loop statements, etc.) and pre-built

Shaykhian, L., & Shaykhian, G. A. (2007, June), Improving Problem Solving Skills Through Adapting Programming Tools Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1726

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