Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: Mathcad and or Excel

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
>But the way that the data can be positioned and manipulated, together with 
>the powerful graphing capabilities make MathCad my choice. Hands down.
I've used both, but I find MathCad worksheets to be pretty sterile, but if I want sterile, Excel works fine. If I want readable I merge the Excel numbers into a Word document with Word's print merge function. The merge template can include titles, letterhead graphics, algebraic notation, exposition, dates and even some math and logical comparison with very little trouble, so you have all the advantages of Excel with a logical orderlay format that's easy on the mind. I've gotten rave reviews from ASME Code inspectors who grumble when calculations aren't laid out like exam questions. (I don't encourage the emphasis of form over substance, but it's saved me enough hand-holding time and effort, to make it worthwhile, and has also made my client look good for their customers.)

I do the calculations in Excel then write the numbers off with a macro that also puts the variable names in the first record. The merge document has formulas composed with the variable names entered as placeholders, such as :

F = ma = («mass»Kg)(«acceleration»m/sec) = «Force» N

So the first record of the merge file would be Force, mass and acceleration and the subsequent records would show the values, say 45, 9 and 5. The merged worksheet would show

F = ma = (9Kg)(5m/sec) = 45 N

It's especially useful where you have a lot of similar calculations to run which frequently happens with pressure vessel work. The only disadvantage is that you can make it too polished. Handwritten numbers, especially if they aren't too neat, may raise a flag that the engineering work might be a little rough, too. When something looks too finished, people may assume that it really is finished, including the checking. Sounds silly, but it happens.

You can also link an Excel Worksheet to a MSW document, but that's a little bit of a pain in the butt to edit. It does provide 'live' calculation sheets for the inevitable putzing around with various configurations. With a little planning, Excel workbooks are very useful--I usually keep one for each project including the necessary input info, charts and macros. Data requirements for similar projects then get organized similarly and a given type of workbook is easy to re-use and improve.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw