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Learning Matlab Just In Time Or Freshman Year?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Computing Tools for Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.876.1 - 11.876.12



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Paper Authors


Raluca Rosca University of Florida

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Dr. RALUCA IOANA ROSCA is presently an Algoritm Engineer with Honeywell Garrett Romania. When writing this paper, she was a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Dept. at Univ. of Florida (UF), holding a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from UF. Her research interests are in applied mathematics, solid mechanics, methods for design against uncertainty and engineering education. Address: C Radulescu Motru #16, Bl 21, Apt 166, Bucuresti 04365,Romania; e-mail:

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

Learning MATLAB- just in time or freshman year?


The report describes an initiative to introduce MATLAB to the students of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department (MAE) at University of Florida. It contains a comparison of the effectiveness of a tutorial series open to students in all years versus an incorporation of the material in the 1-credit EML 4920 Professional Orientation course (incoming freshmen and transfer students section). The topics covered in both Fall and Spring semester 2005 are presented, followed by student population information, student opinions and instructor recommendation.


The College of Engineering has a site-license for MATLAB with SIMULINK, and a number of the senior level courses taught by the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, including Control Theory and Intermediate Engineering Analysis, presently use the software. More junior and senior level courses can naturally use the program, but have no time scheduled to teach it. Outside the department, a large number of classes in Electrical Engineering as well as the Computational Matrix Algebra course offered by the Mathematics Department use the software, and some of those courses are popular with MAE students.

In this context, in Fall 2004, the chairman of the MAE Department, decided to support a short course in MATLAB and the author of this paper was responsible for designing and teaching it. Two versions were implemented: one as a series of tutorials, open to students in all years (and highly advertised in the courses that presently use MATLAB), the second as a part of the EML 4920 Professional Orientation course (incoming freshmen and transfer students section).

The two series had equal length (8 weekly meetings of one hour each) with the tutorial series being offered in the first half of the semester and the EML 4920 part in the second half (following the content about engineering societies, professional licensure, and engineering ethics usually taught in EML 4920). The tutorial series had homework assignments suggested but not collected or evaluated, while the for-credit EML 4920 offering made weekly homework part of the grade. The experience obtained in teaching the tutorial series was used in adapting the material of the for-credit class. These teaching materials were further refined during a second set of offerings in Spring 2005. Furthermore, the Spring 2005 tutorial series coordinated the timing of its subject material with EGM 4313 (Intermediate Engineering Analysis) and EGM 4344 (Introduction to Numerical Methods).

Rosca, R. (2006, June), Learning Matlab Just In Time Or Freshman Year? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1171

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