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Integrating MS Excel in Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.991.1 - 26.991.36



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Paper Authors


Dustin Scott Birch Weber State University

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Dustin S. Birch possesses a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah, and an Associate of Science in Design and Drafting Engineering Technology from Ricks College. Birch is an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department at Weber State University. He also serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Utah Partnership for Education. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Birch has more than 20 years of experience in detail design, engineering, and engineering management in the aerospace and process equipment industries.

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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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