Introduction to Mathcad for Engineers

Mathcad is a tool to arrange, calculate, and visualize engineering calculations. A Mathcad sheet has values, equations, plots, and functions that are written and displayed in a manner that is similar to how they are written in a textbook or reference manual. As inputs in the worksheet are updated, all dependent calculations are updated. Mathcad is a different computational tool than a full programming language like MATLAB or Python or even a spreadsheet language like VBA. In general, Mathcad is best suited to symbolic or numerical analysis to replace an engineering graphing calculator or calculation pad. It is not as well suited to handle large amounts of tabular data or when computational speed is a priority. Instead, it is useful to derive symbolic expressions, visualize data, and quickly prototype a problem that is typical of engineering homework.

In order to be effective at Mathcad, several common shortcut keys must be learned to facilitate the entry of expressions into the worksheet. A list of common expressions and a test worksheet are included below.

As a first exercise, the class steps through each of the following examples contained in a zip file as Mathcad Basics.xmcd. Please download the following zipped archive, extract the Mathcad worksheet and be prepared to step through the example.

At the end of this lecture a student should be able to:

  • Evaluate mathematical expression numerically
  • Assign variables and use them in subsequent calculations
  • Distinguish between the different types of Mathcad "equal signs" and use each appropriately
  • Construct complex mathematical equations involving ()'s, exponents, square roots, etc.
  • Perform symbolic algebraic manipulations using both the menu-based method and toolbar method.
  • Format Mathcad sheets for readability by highlighting regions, changing answer precision, and aligning regions

The solutions to the first lecture examples are in the following PDF document. The Mathcad basics worksheet should eventually look similar to the following after the first lecture material.

It is important to understand the basics as the course subsequently covers functions, arrays, graphing, calculus, equations, solve blocks, and more advanced data analysis techniques.

Purchase Student Version of Mathcad

Mathcad is available for purchase from the company PTC. The following link is available for students to buy a 1-year license for $24.

Mathcad is also available through BYU CAEDM computing in the Chemical Engineering labs or through the SAM client on other computers in the CAEDM network. The current version on the CAEDM computers is Mathcad 15 while the version available for purchase is Mathcad Prime 3.0 (newer version). Please note that Mathcad 15 and Mathcad Prime 3.0 files are not compatible although conversion utilities are available.