Revolutionary Teaching: Professor Encourages Students to Use Mathematica on Tests

Alain Carmasol, Associate Professor, Ecole Nationale d'ingénieurs

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The Mathematica Edge
  • Use built-in functions for Taylor series and Fourier series analysis for applications in vibrations, system dynamics, and more
  • Model real-world systems that include parts from multiple physical domains, such as mechanics, electronics, and control systems, with Wolfram SystemModeler
  • Calculate free and forced vibrations of linear damped, lumped-parameter, multi-degree-of-freedom models of mechanical systems
"The majority of traditional programming environments only work in digital, machine-like precision. However, Mathematica's primary function gives you the ability to do analytical calculations—a big plus you won't find in any other traditional environment."

Challenge

As associate professor at the National Engineering Institute in Metz, Alain Carmasol needs to present mathematical examples without distracting students from basic concepts and methods. Hand calculations are time consuming, often preventing students from seeing the larger picture.

Solution

Mathematica allows Carmasol and his students to get back to the basics of analytical approximations and easily implement the concepts in examples. For instance, he uses it in lectures to show the solution of the equation of vibrating cords using the classic technique of the Fourier series, and to show the approximate solution of partial derivative equations.

Benefits

According to Carmasol, students are able to replace things in very few lines of code with one or two functions—things that, in normal environments, would take dozens or hundreds of lines of code. Mathematica works so well in the engineering classroom that he encourages students to use it while taking exams. Carmasol believes that making students do lines and lines of calculations by hand no longer has any value.


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