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Mathcad In The Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.921.1 - 10.921.5



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Paper Authors

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Brian Houston

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

Mathcad in the Civil Engineering Curriculum

Brian L. Houston

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


The core curriculum for civil engineering and civil engineering technology programs has not changed significantly over time. Courses in statics, dynamics and strengths of materials attempt to teach the same concepts as were taught decades ago. The difference lies in how these concepts are visualized, the teaching methods employed by the instructor and the development of computer-aided design.

Many institutions have added entry-level courses specifically aimed at providing students with basic skills in various software packages reflecting the technology used in the practice of engineering. Without reinforcing these basic skills in upper-level courses by demonstrating applications that use the software, the student may perceive the introductory course as having been a waste of time and money.

In civil engineering, the development of Mathcad by the software firm Mathsoft has provided the civil design engineer a valuable tool capable of producing calculation packages that are both readily modified and easily reviewed. The need for “reviewability” is more acutely felt in the civil engineering discipline because the practice of civil engineering often includes reviewing and sealing calculations. When accepting the liability that accompanies the sealing of documents, the civil engineer gains comfort from calculations that are clear, concise and well annotated. While the licensure issue and its inherent risk are not unique to civil engineering, they are not as prevalent in other engineering disciplines.

Students can realize the advantage of using Mathcad when the instructor emphasizes the risk control and revenue generating aspects of the software. To highlight these benefits, specific assignments can be made in a variety of courses to show the versatility of the software and to demonstrate how specific application development can reduce the design cycle for future projects. The reduction of the design cycle can have a dramatic effect on profitability in lump sum contracts. Additionally, the uniformity provided by development of standardized documents, particularly in Mathcad due to its ease of review, aides in reducing risk by minimizing errors in computations.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Houston, B. (2005, June), Mathcad In The Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14534

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