The course work in any engineering discipline is necessarily based on an assumption that the student has a good foundation of fundamental engineering mathematics. Yet, many Engineering Technology courses have been born out of the desire to provide the student with the more straightforward and practical application of the art and science of engineering to realistic engineering problems while minimizing the need for sophisticated mathematical solutions.
This dilemma can be resolved by utilizing an inexpensive mathematical tool that is virtually omnipresent in even the least expensive PC: the spreadsheet. It is a software package that even the most mathematically challenged student is well aware and is comfortable in using for routine mathematical if not specifically, engineering applications: data reduction, curve-fitting, plug-in iterative solutions, etc.
This paper will describe the author’s effort, with the support from Northeastern University’s Provost Office and The Center for Effective University Teaching (CEUT), in providing the ET student (and in the future, the physical science student) with a powerful tool for solving non-trivial engineering and physical science problems while also helping the student understand the engineering and scientific fundamentals behind the solutions. This effort will hopefully culminate in the development of an instructional Primer that can be used by engineering and Arts and Science students when studying engineering and physical (and natural) sciences.