Many universities currently make extensive use of computer simulations in the teaching of undergraduate courses in engineering. This paper considers the proper role of computer simulations in an engineering curriculum and suggests that simulations alone do not provide the fundamental understanding of physical systems required of practicing engineers. An alternate approach in the use of simulations in engineering education is under development at Bucknell University that integrates both the computational and the laboratory experiences of students. This integration is achieved through the creation of a laboratory environment that provides both the computational hardware and software for preforming sophisticated simulations of various engineering systems and the physical hardware needed to verify the simulations. The unique aspect of this environment is the emphasis on the interactive integration of the computational and experimentation experiences of the student, thereby allowing them both to quickly see the limits of their simulations and to gain a firsthand understanding of the actual performance of complex physical systems.

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