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Integrating A Computer Algebra Software Into The Engineering Curriculum: Problems And Benefits

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.346.1 - 3.346.9

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P. Gharghouri

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

Session 2520

Integrating a computer algebra software into the engineering curriculum: problems and benefits. P. Gharghouri Department of Mathematics, Physics & Computer Science Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This paper describes how MAPLE, a symbolic computation software, may be used as an educational tool in the computation of the eigenvalues and eigenvectors which arise, naturally, in the study of mechanical vibrations. Article 1 presents the rationale behind the choice of MAPLE over DERIVE, MACSYMA and MATHEMATICA. Article 2 describes the specific context where MAPLE was used in a first course of numerical analysis taught by the author. The simple programs used in solving a typical example is presented in Article 3, together with the results obtained at the end of each step. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of using general purpose mathematical software with symbolic manipulation capabilities rather than programming languages such as Pascal, and C are discussed in the conclusion, Article 4.

1. Introduction

A careful review of the proceedings of the annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and of the Canadian Conference on Engineering Education (C2E2) of the last ten years, reveals that MAPLE enjoys a very good reputation in the academic community at large. This is also attested by the ever increasing number of textbooks which are geared to MAPLE.

An equally careful review of the qualifications of the professors in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Ryerson Polytechnic University reveals that a number of them are graduates of the University of Waterloo, Cambridge, Ontario, CANADA, where MAPLE originated. In addition, the fact that almost all the professors of the Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science department (MPCS) are very proficient with MAPLE, is probably another reason favouring its adoption. Indeed, several personal computers located in our offices carry MAPLE. Also, several personal computers in our microcomputer laboratories carry the full version of MAPLE. It is thus natural to think of integrating MAPLE in as many courses as possible in our undergraduate engineering curriculum.

2. MAPLE in the Engineering Curriculum

The introduction of MAPLE in the first year of the engineering curriculum, as part of the Calculus course, or as part of an introductory Computer programming course has been discussed by the faculty of the Mathematics and Computer Science

Gharghouri, P. (1998, June), Integrating A Computer Algebra Software Into The Engineering Curriculum: Problems And Benefits Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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