Mathcad Software and Civil Engineering Calculations (Oct 11, 2003 by M Pilat, U of Washington)


More than 2,000 colleges and universities around the world use Mathcad to provide effective educational curricula and help students succeed in math, science, and engineering.


Mathcad’s features are specially suited to learning and teaching technical subjects in high school, vocational education, and college.  That’s why more educators and students rely on Mathcad for calculation and documentation in math-related disciplines than any other desktop software.  You can:


    * Type math equations just as you would write them

    * Combine text, images, graphs and equations all on the same page

    * Post your files on the Web

    * Automatically update calculations

    * Utilize built-in functions and solvers to tackle a vast array of applied problems

    * Convert between unit systems

    * Visualize data with 2D and 3D graphs

    * Carry out both numeric and symbolic processes

    * Program custom functions


Mathcad is highly effective in education because it is easy-to-use, broadly applicable across many disciplines, and encourages collaboration among teachers and students.  Students learn by using Mathcad to experiment, investigate, and simulate, as well as documenting their mathematical work.  That’s why Mathcad is an indispensable tool, for technical industry professionals.


Mathcad is the software of choice for and applying mathematics in technical projects at 90% of the Fortune 1000 companies and over 500 government installations.



       Universities which use Mathcad


1.  Purdue University CE 293 - Computers and Computer Programming for Civil Engineers

       Textbooks:     Mathcad; A tool for Engineering Problem Solving, by Philip J Pritchard

                             Spreadsheet Tools for Engineers, 2000 Version by Byron S. Gottfried


2.    US Military Academy, West Point

"Computers in the Integrated Civil Engineering Curriculum: A Time of Transition"  by Thomas A. Lenox, Stephen J. Ressler, Robert J. O'Neill, Christopher H. Conley, United States Military Academy, June 1997


In the 1995-96 academic year, the US Military Academy Department of Mathematical Sciences reevaluated standard mathematical packages for the US Military Academy curriculum.  It conducted an extensive review of mathematical assistance programs.  At the conclusion of the review, the Department of Mathematical Sciences recommended Mathcad Plus 6.0 from MathSoft as the new Academy standard.  This choice was greeted enthusiastically by the engineering departments - and immediately adopted for the incoming Class of 2000.  The licensing agreement with MathSoft included provisions for the upperclasses to obtain the same software as the incoming students.  Was the new software accepted by engineering students and faculty as a valuable computational tool?  Absolutely.  The evidence suggests immediate acceptance by the engineering faculty and students.  The following courses within the civil engineering program that make significant use of Mathcad as a problem solving tool:  Mechanics of Materials,  Fluid Mechanics,  Engineering Mathematics,  Structural Analysis,  Hydrology & Hydraulics,  Soil Mech & Foundations,   Design of Steel Structures,  Advanced Structural Analysis, Reinforced Concrete Structures,  Engineering Economy,  Design of Structural Systems,   Structural Mechanics,  Vibration Engineering, and Thermodynamics  This data is current as of the beginning of the second semester of academic year 1996-97, only one semester after USMA implemented its plan to allow cadets of all classes to obtain a personal copy of Mathcad.


Why does Mathcad appear to be succeeding where other products have failed?  In short, Mathcad has succeeded because students find it easy to use and are convinced that it is useful.  Mathcad has replaced many of the previous uses of the spreadsheet.  Because Mathcad's interface uses real math notation in an interactive and visual manner, it has replaced the spreadsheet as the computational tool of choice.  Students and faculty have realized that they can easily create worksheets (rather than spreadsheets!) that show the results through live calculations and graphics.  Spreadsheets have maintained their position as a primary tool for manipulating tabular data -- numerical and/or text.  Mathcad has been adopted for most of the other common numerical calculations using the computer.


3.  University of British Columbia civil engineering course CIVL 225   The goal of this course is to familiarize undergraduate students with computer tools that can be used to solve problems encountered by practicing Civil Engineers.  This course is focused on learning how to use spreadsheets, equation solvers and drafting tools in Engineering Design and Problem Solving. covers  Microsoft® Excel, MathCAD® for Engineers, and AutoCAD®


4.  University of Florida "Computer Methods in Civil Engineering"  Required Text:  Required: Numerical Methods for Engineers With Programming and Software Applications, Steven C. Chapra, Raymond P. Canale, McGraw Hill.   Matlab programming environment and MathCad mathematical worksheet software.


5. U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee  Civil Engineering course: Introduction to Water and Sewage Treatment

       Ability to effectively use standard computer software such as Excel and Mathcad.


6.  Manhattan College, Civil Engineering 408. Treatment Plant Design. Design and upgrading of a wastewater treatment plant; process sizing and plant layout, clarifier and plant hydraulics; diffused aeration system design with energy requirements; overall plant mass balances and cost analysis; structural considerations and hydraulic profiles; water treatment plant process sizing, coagulation and filtration design and hydraulic profiles. Computer Usage:  Mass balance iterations are encouraged to be calculated using Mathcad or a spreadsheet.




Consulting Engineering Firms which use Mathcad


1.  Bechtel uses Mathcad

 MathSoft is promoting the idea of using its technology (Mathcad) to facilitate what it calls calculation management—the practice of viewing engineering calculations as knowledge assets that should be managed and reused.  "Technical engineering calculations are routine tasks that should be thought of as a business process," says MathSoft's senior vice president of strategic planning.  Bechtel, the Houston-based engineering company, has signed on to the notion of calculation management.  Since the late 1990s, the company has created engineering calculation templates (using Mathcad) and posted them on its Intranet for use by its engineers. "We stopped using spreadsheets and macros because of checking issues," says Khaldoon Sakkal, the automation coordinator for civil, structural and architectural engineering for Bechtel.  With 40 calculations centralized for use, all engineers need do is download the one they need, whether it be for wind loads or anchor bolt analysis, and fill in the variables.  While the technology doesn't eliminate mistakes (an engineer can input the wrong data), mistakes won't be in the calculation itself.  Hence, says Sakkal, finding errors and fixing them is a relatively straightforward process of going over just the inputs.


For every engineering project, Bechtel archives all the associated calculations and drawings.  Someone involved in a project—often the engineer who did the template, the lead project engineer or the reviewer who checks calculations—will tell Sakkal when they come across a calculation that's both valuable and reusable.  It's then his job to "bechtelize" the template before putting it online.  He locks portions of the calculation so they can't be altered, he puts all the inputs at the beginning of the template and clearly identifies the output.  All the templates, says Sakkal, "look the same way and are easy to use."  What's been harder work is getting engineers to submit their templates in the first place.  "People don't want to have their calculations scrutinized or be asked to do more things to them," he adds.  Not an unusual hiccup in any kind of knowledge management effort.


So as an early pioneer of calculation management, has Bechtel reaped huge competitive rewards?  Not really, but that wasn't the goal to begin with.  Although Bechtel doesn't maintain formal metrics, Sakkal does say that productivity—as measured by the time it takes engineers to produce drawings for steel and concrete designs—has improved over the years.


2.  Morse Bros Prestressed Concrete Group - Bridge Short Seminars

Morse Bros. Prestressed Concrete Group sponsors short seminars that focus on precast/prestressed bridge design and fabrication issues.   In the past few years, firms and agencies such as CH2M HILL, DEA, OBEC, City of Portland, and ODOT Bridge have participated in more than a dozen seminars.  Topics have included shear design, segmental precast construction, composite flexural design, prestress losses, and more.  Both Standard and LRFD Bridge Specifications are discussed.  Power Point presentations combined with MathCad and Excel templates help illustrate topics of discussion related to the bridge precast industry.


3.  Lockheed-Martin

On Sept. 22, 2003 it was reported that the Structural Analysis Group at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company selected Mathcad as a standard environment for performing, documenting and managing the structural calculations on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program--the largest military contract in history.  Leveraging Mathcad's singular Calculation Management(TM) capabilities, the group can now trace the inputs, assumptions, methods, calculations and results that drive the F-35 JSF structural design process and realize newfound efficiencies in design, quality and productivity for the development of this twenty-first century military aircraft.


"The biggest immediate issues for the F-35 design team are ensuring top quality, shortening design cycles and reducing weight," said Dr. Glenn Morris, specialty lead for structural analysis at Lockheed Martin.  "Mathcad will help us meet our needs by functioning as both a standard tool to perform and document critical calculations and as a design repository where the underlying assumptions behind the calculations can live.  With Mathcad, we will also be able to do more aggressive mathematical analysis, which helps us to speed up design cycles and make improvements to the weight of the aircraft."  The F-35 is the U.S. Military's fifth-generation fighter aircraft.  The mission of the F-35 program is to provide the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force with an affordable and stealthy tactical aircraft for the twenty-first century.  The JSF program is slated to produce a total of 2,593 aircraft for the United States' and United Kingdom's armed forces.  A hallmark of the JSF program is its commitment to world-class manufacturing and a state-of-the-art production line that emphasizes advanced low-cost production, a virtual product team and integrated product ownership.  From the start, F-35 has been an international program. With eight international partners--the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia--the program boasts unprecedented global participation. Additionally, Israel recently joined the program as a Security Cooperation Participant. Spearheaded by Lockheed Martin as the primary contractor, the JSF program involves subcontractors and suppliers from all over the world who contribute to keeping the aircraft affordable and unparalleled in quality.


"We are very proud that a company so well respected in aerospace as Lockheed Martin has chosen Mathcad as a standard design package.  Mathsoft has identified Calculation Management as a crucial business process for engineering intensive organizations and now our industry leading customers such as Lockheed Martin are adopting Calculation Management as a strategic initiative," said Chris Randles, CEO of Mathsoft Engineering & Education, Inc. "By managing the critical engineering calculations for the structural design of the F-35, Lockheed Martin will improve productivity, eliminate redundancies, reduce errors, minimize audit time and raise quality."


Engineering and information technology challenges come together in the JSF program.  Since the design strategy of the F-35 emphasizes efficiency and low cost, Lockheed Martin set out to use common software for the design of the entire aircraft--from the mission systems and subsystems to the airframe.  This is critical to achieving more efficient test and checkout procedures and reduced software maintenance infrastructure. Currently, decreasing the estimated weight of the structural elements of the aircraft is a top priority for the design team as it prepares for its next major milestone, Critical Design Review.  Mathcad, with its ability to facilitate rigorous data analysis, will help enable the Structural Analysis Group to meet this important goal.  At the same time, Mathcad's centralized repository capabilities will contribute greatly to the program's objective of creating a seamless engineering and business environment linking the JSF Program Office, Lockheed Martin and its U.S. and international team members.  Harnessing its integration capabilities, the F-35 structural design team is also integrating Mathcad with other essential tools such as Finite Element Analysis and Computer Aided Design software.


4.  Aerospace Industrial companies using Mathcad

Boeing, USA

General Dynamics, USA

Gulfstream Aerospace, USA

Honeywell, USA

ITT Aerospace/Communication, USA

Lockheed Martin, USA

Loral Space & Communications, USA


Northrop Grumman, USA

Raytheon, USA

Textron, USA

United Technologies, USA


Government Agencies using Mathcad

1.  Washington Dept of Transportation

 The Washington Bridge Foundation Libraries™ (WBFL) provide the foundation upon which WSDOT is building its next generation bridge engineering software tools.  The WBFL consists of programmable software components that can be used in spreadsheets and MathCAD documents that you write as well as C++ libraries for those of you write bridge engineering applications.

 The new Twisp River Bridge is a spliced single-span 197 ft semi-integral precast, prestressed concrete structure. The bridge is located in the City of Twisp in Okanogan County, midway between Seattle and Spokane on State Route 20. The superstructure design represented WSDOT’s first post-tensioned LRFD effort.  Prestress losses were calculated using the refined method.   Mathcad and BDS were the only software programs used. 


2.  Florida Dept of Transportation

Structures Design Office - Engineering Programs.  The Structures Design Office is currently updating some of our Mathcad 2000 programs to run in Mathcad 2001 Professional.  Until this work is completed, some programs may not execute properly when opened in Mathcad 2001.

LRFD Box Culvert Program for use with Mathcad Professional (v2000 or higher). The program designs concrete Box Culverts, wingwalls, headwalls, and cutoff walls in accordance with the AASHTO LRFD specification.

Drilled Shaft Design V1.1 for Sign and Signal Structures.   Analyzes overturning and torsion in drilled shaft foundations constructed in sand or clay. Also calculates maximum service moment in shaft. This program requires Mathcad 2000 Professional or later

LRFD Live Load Generator, English, v2.31   English LRFD Live Load Generator  for use with Mathcad Professional (v2001i or later).  The program calculates live loads for truck, truck train, lane, partial lane, and permit loads in accordance with the AASHTO LRFD specification.

LRFD Prestressed Beam Program, English v1.81   LRFD Prestressed Beam Program for use with Mathcad Professional (v7.03 or v8.03). The program analyzes prestressed concrete beams in accordance with the AASHTO LRFD specification and the FDOT LRFD Structures Design Guidelines.  English version analyzes single web, U, Double T, and flat slab beams. 

LRFD Retaining Wall Program, English v2.01   LRFD Retaining Wall Program for use with Mathcad Professional (v2000 or later).  The program analyzes and designs cast-in-place retaining walls in accordance with the LRFD Code and the Structures Design Guidelines.


Request for Proposals

1.  Iowa Dept of Transportation Bridge Design

The consultant is strongly encouraged to use the following software, which are compatible with the Office of Bridges & Structures for the Department’s storage and future use: Microstation Geopak, Microsoft

Word for text documents (extension – doc), Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets (extension – xls), and MathCad for calculation templates.


Job Openings Specifying Mathcad

1.  Knapp Architectural Engineers of San Bernardino seeks S.E. or P.E. knowledgeable of 1994 UBC, Staad Pro, Enercalc, RISA, AutoCad 14, Mathcad and Microsoft.  Type 5 experience, skills to manage, plan, develop, coordinate and provide structural calculations and evaluate specification drawings


2.   Hinman Consulting Engineers, Inc.  Entry Level Engineer  New York and San Francisco

Position Description   Support our lead engineers in analyzing and designing structures for response to explosive loading.  Perform dynamic non-linear analysis using single/multiple-degree-of-freedom and possibly finite element methods. Write reports with graphics for presenting to clients. Review plans for conformance with our recommendations. Travel for site visits may be required.

Qualifications  MS in Civil/Structural Engineering.  Courses in structural dynamics, vibrations, inelastic response and earthquake engineering is highly desirable.  Experience with MathCad, Matlab, SAP2000, DYNA3D, AutoCAD, and AutoLISP is helpful.  We are looking for engineers with excellent communication skills, a strong team spirit and creative problem-solving abilities. US citizenship required.


3.  J.R. Miller & Associates, Inc.,  Brea, CA

Graduate with 5 yrs experience. EIT completion necessary.  Engineering registration highly desirable.  Structural design office experience in preparation of calculations for wood, masonry, concrete, and steel structures.  Computer skills and knowledge of MathCad, Excel and Structural Engineering Analysis software. Good oral and written communication skills a must.  Busy design office environment with good benefits.  Excellent opportunity to work with senior professionals and gain varied experience in Structural Engineering of buildings and industrial structures.