American Society of Civil Engineers


Leveraging the Integrated Programming and Visualization Features of Mathcad in Teaching Advanced Structural Analysis


by Gary Consolazio, (University of Florida, Civil and Coastal Engineering, 365 Weil Hall, Gainesville, Florida, 32611 E-mail: GRC@CE.UFL.EDU)

pp. 1-14, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/41000(315)10)

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Structures Congress 2008: 18th Analysis and Computation Specialty Conference
Abstract: Mathcad is unique among calculation and programming environments in that it permits programming constructs, mathematical expressions, and graphical visualizations to be easily and compactly integrated. In teaching advanced structural analysis topics, these unique capabilities can be leveraged to improve student comprehension and elevate the level of analysis that can be performed directly by students. Instead of focusing on low-level programming issues, Mathcad allows students to focus instead on high-level engineering concepts. As a result, students can implement analysis procedures in Mathcad that would require far greater (and often impractical) amounts of time to code using traditional programming languages. Coursework related programming of this type is not intended to train the next generation of engineering software developers. Rather, it is intended to instill in students a fundamental understanding of structural behavior and an understanding of the inner workings of commercial software. When students program numerical analysis procedures themselves, and then compare their results to output they obtain from commercial structural analysis software packages, they gain insight into the capabilities—and limitations—of the commercial software.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Computer programming
Structural analysis
Computer software