Teaching programming skills with MATLAB

Marc E. Herniter, David R. Scott, Rakesh Pangasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


A major challenge in contemporary engineering education is how to include and reinforce computer programming thinking skills throughout the curriculum without trivializing the problems to be solved. With all of the application specific computer programs available to solve engineering problems, engineering schools do a disservice to students if they solve trivial problems by writing programs in a high level language rather then using application specific programs. As an example, engineers would not write a program in C to solve a four transistor circuit when they could have solved the problem in a few minutes with SPICE. With the proliferation of application specific programs, instructors can assign non- trivial problems that can be easily solved with application specific programs but are difficult to solve in a reasonable amount of time with a high level programming language. The result is that most engineering curricula teach a high level programming class in the freshmen year and most students are seldom required to use the language again. The Electrical Engineering department at NAU has attempted to solve this problem by teaching programming in MATLAB and then requiring the use of MATLAB throughout the curriculum. MATLAB has enough programming constructs to teach an introductory programming course along with built-in functions to solve non- trivial problems in most high-level courses. This facilitates not only the learning of valuable programming thinking skills but also their reinforcement in the solution of nontrivial application problems throughout the curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalComputers in Education Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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