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Utilization Of Excel In Solving Structural Analysis Problems

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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

Quality & Accreditation: Outcome Assessment

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1267.1 - 8.1267.13

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Paper Authors

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Shahnam Navaee

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

Session 3560

Utilization of EXCEL in Solving Structural Analysis Problems

Shahnam Navaee Georgia Southern University


Engineering educators are always searching for new and effective tools to speed up their computations, enhance their teaching, and elevate student learning. Currently, several different approaches in teaching structural engineering concepts are being investigated by the author. In this paper, the use of EXCEL spreadsheet software in analyzing structures is discussed employing several classical structural engineering methods. Using the developed spreadsheets in this project, the instructor can quickly generate and analyze a variety of problems with ease during the lecture to enhance student course comprehension. These spreadsheets can also be provided for the students to allow them verify the accuracy of their developed hand-solutions. Note that it is much more difficult to achieve the objectives described above using other commercial structural engineering software, since these packages are often quite expensive, more complex, and harder to work with. Many civil engineering and civil engineering technology faculty can neither afford to acquire this type of software in their institutions, nor they have time to teach the students how to use the software. The use of EXCEL spreadsheet package might be one easy solution to remedy these problems. This relatively inexpensive software is a component of the Microsoft Office suite which is already preinstalled in many computers when purchased, and is already available in many educational institutions through a site-license. Using this software many of the classical approaches associated with analyzing structurally determinate as well as indeterminate structures can be formulated with ease. The purpose of the presented paper is to illustrate some of the capabilities of this software package related to solving structural engineering problems through presenting and discussing the solution for two sample problems.

I. Introduction

In an earlier work of the author the utilization of MATLAB software in complementing a structural engineering course was investigated. The paper based on this investigation was published in the Proceeding of the 2002 ASEE Annual Conference1, and was presented at the ASEE/SEFI/TUB International Colloquium in Berlin, Germany in October of 2002. Although this method of complementing a course offers a number of great advantages in terms of enhancing the understanding and capabilities of the students in analyzing structures, this method has two main drawbacks. Familiarizing students with the MATLAB programming principles, concepts, and tools requires additional time and effort. The instructors teaching the course may not have enough time to adequately teach the students about all the needed skills in formulating the solutions for the problems. The other main shortcoming of this approach has to do with the availability of the MATLAB software to the students. The students may not afford to purchase

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

Navaee, S. (2003, June), Utilization Of Excel In Solving Structural Analysis Problems Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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