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Introduction To Matlab Using A Theoretical Mechanics Study Case

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.786.1 - 8.786.9

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Paper Authors

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Sanda Cleja-Tigoiu

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Raluca Rosca

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Session 2793

Introduction to MATLAB Using a Theoretical Mechanics Study-Case

Raluca Rosca, Sanda Cleja-Tigoiu

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of Florida/ Department of Mathematics and Informatics, University of Bucharest

Abstract The paper describes a 5 weeks module of a 3 credits Advanced Mechanics of Materials class taught in the Fall 2002 semester at University of Bucharest. The module realized an introduction to the plotting, matrix computation and scientific algebra capabilities of the software MATLAB, while allowing the students to apply their newly acquired software knowledge to a meaningful and challenging physical problem, namely the behavior of a slender cylindrical bar in an uniaxial test. It is the conviction of the authors that this type of module it is well suited for the first part of an Advanced Mechanics of Materials class, or of any other class that starts by reviewing notions introduced in previous courses and that would benefit from the use by students of a symbolic calculation software.


As the use of symbolic computation software (be it MATLAB, Mathcad, MAPLE or Mathematica) and numerical simulation becomes prevalent in the professional practice of mathematicians, theoretical mechanicians and engineers, so it becomes more important to teach the students the basics of these software programs. As many times the software used in a certain course is very specialized, it is not possible to have a course at freshman or sophomore level introducing all software do be used during the course of study.

The authors advocate for integrating the software learning into the teaching of the subject(s) where the software would be used. The introductory part of the course, usually dedicated to review of notions taught in prerequisite courses, is the natural time for introducing the software. In this way, all the tools necessary for the successful completion of the course are presented to all students, and the mix of old and new material keeps students interested in learning. The authors consider the approach superior to the one in which a review session of all theoretical notions is followed by labs/ home assignments in which students have to read through software tutorial. As common experience and pedagogical experience repeatedly prove, one learns better when what s/he learns has a visible application and is reinforced by use.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Cleja-Tigoiu, S., & Rosca, R. (2003, June), Introduction To Matlab Using A Theoretical Mechanics Study Case Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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