Why is Mathcad so Keen on Units?

In an earlier Blog Mona Zeftel writes about units checking and conversion in Mathcad. Sure it is a convenience, but why is unit handling such an important part of Mathcad’s product strategy.

If I am an engineer designing a spacecraft to orbit Mars (this blog is not about criticizing NASA engineers), sure it would be nice if the program checked my units for me, but is this all?

The truth is, most engineers know their units. They know what unit system they use, what conversion factors are, and how to properly balance the units. In fact, they know this so well that they don’t have to think about it.

So what happens when an engineer in the US sends their results and calculations (e.g. as a Excel spreadsheet) to an engineer in Denmark or China? Both engineers, being so good in managing their units that they don’t even think about it – let me repeat – don’t think about it! It’s all well if they are accustomed to working in the same units system, and the data or results is indeed in units they expect (e.g. length of a bridge in feet). However, what if the assumptions are not the same? Well, we know what happens.

So Mathcad’s unit handling is more than a convenience for engineers. It benefits collaboration and cross-organizational processes. Here is how.

Mathcad will let you combine compatible units – you can add force in N and kN or lbf:

Mathcad will flag errors when trying to combine incompatible units – you cannot add force and velocity:

Mathcad will carry units throughout all calculations, so you can keep them explicit:

Mathcad lets you choose which unit system or which specific unit to display the result in and will do the conversion for you:


Visit our dedicated page focused on engineering unit conversion.

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