Don’t Compromise When You Buy Engineering Calculation Software

Written By: Mike Gayette
  • Math Software
  • 9/7/2016

Gather any random group of engineers and you’ll hear them speak two languages. The language of their specialty: chemistry, metallurgy, electronics, etc. And their common tongue - mathematics.

Engineers working on the same project still rely on math to communicate with each other. Calculations are logical, clear, and verifiable by everyone involved. They just work. So it’s no surprise that for centuries, trusty old engineering notebooks were the primary method of design documentation. Until technology brought software options to the table.

Spreadsheets, scientific modeling software, and word processors have all contributed over the years. Yet each one is a compromise. None of them replaces the engineering notebook. Modeling software often uses its own language (think computer programming), and word processors do well enough at keeping notes. Spreadsheets tackle calculations, but still they lack the visual and reliable qualities of natural mathematical notation.

Take the two identical equations pictured below. The first one is made in a spreadsheet. It gets the job done, but likely takes longer to create. Error checking and correction is more difficult because the entire formula isn’t readily understandable by engineers new to the project. In fact, it isn’t even visible unless the engineer clicks on the specific cell that shows the calculated result. This leaves more opportunities for errors. By contrast, the second equation is written the way you would work it out on graph paper. It makes sense to any engineer looking through the documentation. No head scratching or special software training needed.

engineering calculation shown in Excel

Engineering calculation shown in Mathcad

Two identical calculations. The top one is written in Excel, the bottom one is Mathcad. 

So what’s an engineer to do when their company doesn’t understand the difference? Chad Jackson, Principal Analyst at Lifecycle Insights, answers that question in his new ebook, “Solving Engineering’s Calculation Compromise.” A veteran of CAD and associated technologies, he brings an astute voice to the question of what to use for engineering calculations and documentation software.

To start, Jackson touches on the history of engineering notebooks, then dives into the pain points found in many of the modern software equivalents. “How many engineers went into the profession to program spreadsheets or build mathematical models?” he asks. The answer is self-evident. Accepting compromises results in spending less time on products and more time wrangling software. For companies that value the time and results of their engineers, investing in better software is the practical answer.

Jackson comes full circle from the consequences to highlighting the solution. Purpose-built engineering software speaks the natural language of math. It also adds value through unit awareness, CAD integration, standardization of calculations, and the integration of plots, images, and elements from third party software.

“Solving Engineering’s Calculation Compromise” is both a philosophical and business-centered ebook that proves the case for true engineering calculation software. If your shop is still using a solution that is just “good enough,” click here to get the ebook and see for yourself the benefits Mathcad brings to your product teams. 

Download the ebook Solving Engineering's Calculation Compromise

  • Math Software

About the Author

Mike Gayette

Mike Gayette is a marketing professional and freelance writer based in North Dakota. He writes about engineering software, marketing technology, customer service, and team building. He also spends time at the local humane society as a dog walker and cat entertainer.