• Question: Would you use any type of computer software to help with your work, if so which computer program?

    Asked by kathrynduffy3 to Amit, Emily, Jo, Martin, Paige on 16 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Amit Pujari

      Amit Pujari answered on 16 Mar 2012:


      Yes, I think many engineers use specialised softwares suitable for their work.

      I used Matlab previously. Matlab is a powerful software program for many engineering applications. It is good for number crunching, doing complex calculations automatically, analysing various types of data, etc. I have also used LabVIEW, another program used in engineering. I have also used program for statistical analysis.

    • Photo: Paige Brown

      Paige Brown answered on 16 Mar 2012:


      Great question!! Engineers can hardly get by without computer programs and programming any more… computer programmers and computer engineers are very important to what we do every day! I have used modelling software like fluent, a cool software that can tell you how fluid is moving in a pipe… or in a heart valve!

      Today I use a lot of statistical software known as SPSS to analyze data on people’s communications. I use a software called qualtics to design surveys about scientific issues like climate change or Nanotechnology that people can take. These surveys can tell me what a great number of people think about these issues.

    • Photo: Joanne Davies

      Joanne Davies answered on 16 Mar 2012:


      Hello kathrynduffy3. Very pleased to meet you.

      We use computer software to help with our jobs and there are a lot of them to choose from. The ones we choose are specially tailored for engineering.

      ERP – Engineering Requirements Planning software is very common and there are lots of different versions available. We use this mostly for production planning in manufacturing.

      The ERP system holds all the resource information for the company.
      It’s where we keep our BOMS (Bills of Materials).
      BOMS are lists of materials and components that are needed to make a product.
      So if you had a BOM for a mobile phone it would have a cable, screen, buttons and everything you need to be able to assemble a phone for a customer.

      It tells us how many parts we have and where they are located so that we can easily find everything.

      It keeps records of everything we have made and works out what we have left so we don’t have to count everything.

      When we have a request from a customer, we can raise an order using the software.
      The software tells us where everything is so that we can get the order ready.
      It also tells us if we need to order any new parts, so that we can get them ready.

      One of the ERP software programmes I have used is called ‘EFACS.’

      We use other software as well for different jobs. In design we use CAD (Computer Aided Design).

      The CAD allows us to draw pictures of new products on screen and we can animate them to make sure they work before we make the real ones. I have used ‘SDRC Ideas’ to do this.

      CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) is another type of software we use for making things in engineering. Once we have designed our product in CAD we can process it for CAM and put it onto a disc or memory stick and take it into the machine shop.

      In the machine shop there are CNC machines (Computer Numerically Controlled) and we put our CAM information about our design into these and the machines and they work like robots right in front of our eyes making the things we have told them to make. It’s great and it’s just like magic.

      We use lots of other software systems as well and I will add some more if I get the time.

      I loved this question kathrynduffy3. Thank you for asking. 🙂

    • Photo: Emily Bullen

      Emily Bullen answered on 19 Mar 2012:


      I use a lot of software to help with my work.
      I have various computer modelling programs, for different types of calculations.
      For example I have one called Computational Fluid Dynamics that will show me which areas of a reactor will be best mixed when I tell it the set up (see my profile for a picture of what the results look like, the best mixed are in red).
      Another is called Aspen, and with this I can calculate the properties of all kinds of solvents, and solvent mixtures. For example for a mixture of two solvents I can calculate what temperature it will boil at.
      I also use a piece of software as a lab book; we all write up the experiments that we do, and this allows everyone to be able to see it and use my work if they need it.
      Obviously we have the standard word/excel/powerpoint too. 🙂

    • Photo: Martin Wallace

      Martin Wallace answered on 19 Mar 2012:


      I use CAD software a lot in my job: Computer Aided Design is a way of drawing something in 3D on your computer and being able to rotate it around and see how things move in relation to each other before you actually make anything physically.
      The software I use for this is called Solidworks, and it also has the capability to analyse the stresses in the structures using something called Finite Element Analysis (FEA). This is where I can apply a force to part of my structure and see how the stress is distributed in the different parts. If the stress goes above a certain value, this means that the structure could break at this point. If this happens it means I can re-design the structure to spread the stress out a bit more evenly so that the design passes the test.
      Using software to design and test the products we make before we actually make anything means that we make a lot less mistakes and spend a lot less money on things that might not work.

      In addition to this sort of software, most engineers also use some sort of spreadsheet and word processor – we use Microsoft Word and Excel every day. Knowing how to use these will really help you later in life, no matter what career you choose to follow.

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