**Guest post by Cosmin Negru**
As a civil engineer you will always have to perform calculations for the structures that you design.
I’ve studied civil engineering and as a student I’ve learned to use PTC Mathcad in order to get my projects done and I became a huge fan of it; but that is a story for another time.
After graduating I’ve been working in a design department and I can tell you from experience that engineers use a wide range of tools when it comes to engineering calculations. Most of them use Excel or other similar calculation tools while others still do the calculations by hand. That was absolutely fine by me before I started working there. Let me tell you a few things that I had to struggle with and the top three time savings tools I found to be the most necessary when performing my engineering calculations.
Natural Math Notation
The first week at that job they introduced me to the workflow that they have and I started looking through the files and worksheets in order to get familiar with them. As I was opening them, I realized that nothing in there looked similar to what I was familiar from school. It was hard for me to follow and understand the formulas. It was all cell references, $ and !. Engineers do not understand cell references; they understand formulas written in natural math notations. I had to lose a lot of time to decipher the content of a file before being able to use it and this sometimes required me paying a visit to the guy that created it in the first place because he was the only one able to answer my questions. So re-using his files was not that straight forward. Imagine that at some point that engineer leaves the company. Everybody else will then have to struggle to understand his work. Using PTC Mathcad will prevent things like this to happen because the calculation is laid out in an easy to read, understand and easy to validate format.
What I also had to pay a lot of attention to when working with spreadsheets was units and units conversion. I was never sure if the result was displayed in the correct unit or if I’ve missed a unit conversion along the way. Trust me when I tell you that no other software handles units better than PTC Mathcad does. Not only that it recognizes the built in unit when you type it from the keyboard, but you will never have to worry about unit conversion due to PTC Mathcad’s Intelligent Unit System. This will save you time and effort and you will be able to focus on completing your engineering calculations.
Being in any of the situations above and facing a deadline is not really the best position to be in. Spending time to understand the work of someone else because it’s not in the right format or having to worry about the accuracy of the result can be avoided using the right tool. PTC Mathcad will make it easier for you and your design department to put together template worksheets that even a new employee can use and understand.
Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try out all the above features for free in PTC Mathcad Express.
Try our free civil engineering worksheets