Electronic spreadsheet packages which were originally developed to create budget and do financial computations can now be used to perform innovative computer-based analyses. As these packages make increasing inroads into engineering profession, variety of new and innovative professional and instructional applications are being emerged. No longer confined to accountants and business people — electronic spreadsheet utilizations in engineering ranging from sensitivity (parametric) analysis to optimization are becoming more popular. Recently, those engineers who have recognized the usefulness and power of newly added features to these programs have started exploring the possibility of using these packages as a decision-making tool in the area of computer-aided engineering. This growing use of spreadsheets stems from their ability to perform repetitive sophisticated calculations on real time and the availability of built in procedures desirable for technical presentation.
To enhance their teaching and expose students to the applications of electronic spreadsheets, some engineering educators have started integrating these productivity tools into their courses. The computational power of new generation of personal computers in conjunction with ever increasing graphics and advanced mathematics capabilities of spreadsheets can now be employed to perform parametric or what-if analyses.
It is the intent of this paper to demonstrate the use of spreadsheet packages to solve a wide spectrum of problems in mechanical engineering. The case studies used in this paper are taken directly or in some cases with slight modifications from undergraduate text books. The Borland Quattro Pro spreadsheet package version 3 has been utilized to perform spreadsheet-based engineering analyses.