This title brings up a lot of good memories mainly because they go back to the time I was a college student. I was in my final year and I was about to start working on my final project. After receiving the topic for my project I started planning how to do it. This was a bit of a challenge because I did not have a lot of experience or tools (at least ones that I was aware of). The requirement of the project was to do a hand calculation of a bridge structure. And by hand calculation I mean that we were not allowed to use any software for FEM analysis. Everything else was on the table.
Without thinking about it too much I got to work. My plan was to do the calculation on paper because I thought I would have a lot more control over the way I laid it out. From there I planned to do the documentation in Word. It did not seem like a bad idea at first, but in a few weeks I found out that this was taking me a lot of time. Each time I performed a verification of the designed elements and it failed, I had to throw everything away and start fresh. As I advanced further with the calculation, it was started to get harder to go back and adjust the dimensions each time something failed. This was both frustrating and time consuming. By the middle of the semester I was far behind with the project. Something had to change and I had to find a way to catch up.
Little did I know the solution to all my problems was right around the corner. All I had to do was go out with some of my colleagues for a drink. As we were enjoying life we got to talking about the final project. Most of the guys had the same issues as me but not all of them. There was one guy sitting next to me who was laughing at us complaining about how much time it took us and how painful it was to go back and recalculate. He was kind enough to enlighten us and introduce us to PTC Mathcad. I had no idea what this software was, but at that point I was ready to try anything.
So I went home and got my hands dirty with it. I had no idea how to use it so I looked for online resources. Any guide or tutorial that I could get my hands on was taking me one step closer to mastering this amazing tool. The Help Centre was full of useful information and examples. I discovered the vast capabilities of PTC Mathcad as I had to figure out how to solve my problems. When I needed to solve systems of equations, I learned about the Solve Block, when I needed to import data from other file formats, I had to learn about the File access functions. Not to mention I didn’t have to worry about Unit Conversion. That was a huge.
So in a few weeks I managed to move all I had into PTC Mathcad, and man it was easy to update a calculation. One of the things that I loved about it was that every formula was entered in the natural math notation that I was used to. It was easy for me to follow and validate my calculation and it made it very easy for me to share files with other colleagues. In the end there was no need for me to use Word in order to write my documentation. I had it all in PTC Mathcad and all I had to do was to hit the print button.
If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to give PTC Mathcad a try. Download the free for life software, PTC Mathcad Express and try creating your own “first worksheet.”