June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.991.1 - 26.991.36
Integrating MS Excel in Engineering Technology CurriculumAs is typical with all Engineering Technology programs, our department offers instruction insubjects such as solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermal sciences, and machine design. Thesecourses are taught with attention paid to the fundamental principles and classic approaches toproblem solving. Additionally, as a department, we offer instruction in high technologyapproaches to problem solving which offer more sophisticated solutions. These technologiesinclude CAD/CAM simulations, FEA, as well as engineering programming tools such as TKsolver, Matlab, etc.As powerful and sophisticated as these specialized software tools are, there is also a significantamount of engineering simulation and computing power that is available in MS Excel. As partof the MS Office software suite, MS Excel is available in almost any office or lab environment,but its analytic power and usefulness as an engineering aid is often overlooked. Due to its nearuniversal availability, and general ease of use, MS Excel is integrated into many of our classcurriculum as a learning aid and analysis tool.In courses such as MET - 2500 Modern Engineering Technologies, MET 3050 – Dynamics,MET 3400 – Machine Design, and MET 3700 – Testing & Failure Analysis, variousfunctionalities of MS Excel are explored to improve computation and analysis accuracy as wellas problem solving efficiency. Processes such as design automation, numerical solutions tocomplex mathematic problems, data reduction, regression analysis, and simulation are taught,demonstrated, and reinforced through in-class examples, homework assignments, and studentprojects.Not only are students exposed to a software tool that has significant flexibility in the areas ofengineering analysis and computation, they develop alternate ways of looking at problems andsolving them. In addition to learning the specific functionality of the software, the studentsdevelop skills in the synthesis of an engineering model, and approaches to formulating solutionsthat may be very difficult or impossible to solve using more conventional techniques. As ageneral observation, it has been noted that many students have used MS Excel in various limitedcapacities such as financial planning, but very few of them have ever used the software as anengineering computational or modeling aid. It has also been observed that many students haveonly used the software in a cursory manner, and have little knowledge of the depth and breadthof its capabilities.To date, the learning outcomes have been positive, with students gaining a better and morethorough understanding of the subject matter, analytical techniques, as well as developingspecific software skills that they can carry forward into industry as they move on intoprofessional roles. The specific techniques and examples of the integration of MS Excel as anengineering tool and learning aid will be documented in the final paper submitted.
Birch, D. S. (2015, June), Integrating MS Excel in Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24328
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