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Using Excel as a Tool to Teach Manufacturing and Heat Transfer

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2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference


Boulder, Colorado

Publication Date

March 25, 2018

Start Date

March 25, 2018

End Date

March 27, 2018

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Paper Authors


Odon M Musimbi Metropolitan State University of Denver Orcid 16x16

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Odon M. Musimbi, PhD.
Assistant Professor,
Metropolitan State University of Denver

PhD, Engineering (Mechanical), Colorado School of Mines(2011)
MS, Engineering Systems, Colorado School of Mines(2011)
Diploma, Mechanical Engineer, University of Kinshasa (1994)

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Jean Paul Mulanza University of Kinshasa

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Dr.Ing Jean-Paul S. Mulanza

Professor, (1990-Present)
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Polytechnic Faculty
University of Kinshasa
BP 255 Kinshasa XI, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr.Ing, Aachen University, Germany (1990)

Dipl. Ing (MS Eng), Aachen University, Germany (1986)

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Excel software is increasingly being used as a computational tool in science and engineering education, as well as in other fields. The advantages of this tool are the simplicity and the affordability of the software. Unlike other computational packages, Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite and does not require additional investment to purchase. Because of the cost of more advanced packages such as MATLAB, Mathematica and Mathcad, coupled with the lack of time to teach new software in classrooms, some universities are using Excel in various aspects of the training of their Engineering students. Most engineering students in developing countries cannot afford advanced packages such as those listed earlier. Even in engineering schools in the US where students are better-informed using advanced technologies and social media, the common utilization of Excel is very basic among freshmen and sophomore. It consists oftentimes in the creation of tables and graphs for reports and other office applications. This paper discusses the usage of Excel as a computational tool to support courses of Manufacturing and Heat Transfer offered in summer of 2014 and 2015. The goal is to share how a simple tool can perform advanced operations and therefore improve the learning process of Mechanical Engineering students. Some of the operations performed by the students included matrices inversion, root finding, data analysis, partial differential equations solving, numerical integration, visualization and simulations. The student population included juniors and seniors in undergraduate Mechanical Engineering. Example problems solved by the students are presented as illustrations. During the spring of 2017, a survey compared students’ interests and performance after using the Excel software. The results of these investigations show that 93% of students were satisfied with the tool. The study also indicates that students have diversified and expanded the range of computational activities performed with Excel in other courses. While Excel has limitations compared to more advanced packages, the study encourages the use of Excel in engineering education for both its simplicity, affordability and its popularity in the industry.

Musimbi, O. M., & Mulanza, J. P. (2018, March), Using Excel as a Tool to Teach Manufacturing and Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado.

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