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Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

And just in case you are wondering, I don't work for Maplesoft, nor do I get commisions from them

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

There are a few alternatives not mentioned here (yet.)

Smath (a "free" web app) has been mentioned as a Mathcad "look like."

Octave is a MatLab "open source" alternative.

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

Does Octave do symbolics ?

As a Matlab alternative, I belive Scilab is better (and free & opensource too)

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

Adrien Thurin wrote:

Does Octave do symbolics ?

I don't know.

I'm angering my management by obstinately using Mathcad . I downloaded Octave at home to see whether it would run Matlab scripts. (It did, the one or two simple ones I tried.)

MatLab is a programming language. All the new hires know it because it's free in school. My superior, who wrestled his entire career with FORTRAN thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread; he wants everyone to write MatLab scripts that create graphs for PowerPoint.

I started doing analysis on a yellow pad with a calculator; when I discovered that Mathcad would create my yellow pad with automatic calculation AND unit checking I put the calculator in the drawer next to the slide rule.

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

I completely agree with you regarding Mathcad (and competitors like SMath and Maple). As an engineer, these software allow me to focus on how to express the problems, and the process of solving them (fun !) rather than the actual calculation (dedious !). Not that Math isn't useful anymore, but certainly, that lightens the burden.

Regarding Matlab, Octave and Scilab, I was told (= rumor = needs confirmation) that Scilab is a fork of an old version of Matlab, that evlolved in his own way. It is quite mature, but therefore diverged a bit from Mathlab in terms of synthax (your "FFT()" function might be called "fft()", maybe not use the same parameters, etc). No direct use of the same scripts in both, but easy enough to transfer across, given a little bit of time to read the documentation. On the other hand, Octave is younger, but was designed to match Matlab's syntax. So most common functions would be directly reusable from one to the other. But the counterpart is that it is less mature, and possibly lacks features.

One thing that will certainly be missing from both opensource alternatives are the toolboxes, and particularly the allmighty Simulink (an engineer's dream !). As far as I know (again, needs to be confirmed), there is no equivalent, or if there is, not as mature and powerful.

On the other hand, Matlab costs an arm, Simulink costs a leg, and each toolbox costs a lung or a liver, so if you can live with either alternative, you will certainly avoid the pain of selling your organs on the black market to pay for a piece of software...

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

I hadn't thought about it, but we have required MATLAB classes for engineering undergrads and it is, by far, the most common number crunching package on campus.

I have always thought of it as super-duper FORTRAN. It's a great step up for the FORTRAN I learned in college. It's also really good at big number crunching. I like it. However, it's not so good for smaller, homework-sized problems. That's where the Mathcad interface shines.

Support for MATLAB is great and it's easy to get access to it - it's on all our computers and also on software remote, so everyone uses it.

In contrast, Mathcad is harder to find. It's on the computers by the engineering computer network and it's on software remote, but you have to know it's there. It's buried a couple levels down, so you need to do a search for it. It's also version 14 - not sure why. There are no classes here on Mathcad as far as I know.

I'm a faculty member and, if I want Mathcad on any of my computers, I have to buy licenses. Right now, I only have two machines with Mathcad. If I want any of my grad students to use Mathcad, I have to dig up a charge number and buy it for them. Mostly, I just have them use MATLAB.

MATLAB is free to me and is on all my computers. I don't know if we have a site license or if they just supply it for free to universities. We get a lot of software for free. For example, most of what AutoDesk makes is free for educational use.

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

PTC (and Mathsoft before them) do a lousy job of salesmanship at colleges and universities.MatLab got it right, give it away at school so they learn it, like it, and use it by default. Then make them pay thru the nose when they get out.

Floating site licenses for MatLab are about three times the cost of a "chair" of Mathcad (I've been told. My Company has several hundred "seats" of MatLab,so that complaints of "no license" are held to a minimum; but the 15 Mathcad seats see about a 5% useage rate.

I've had conversations with sales reps about why they can't get Mathcad into my company and I tell them to give it away in schools. When a new engineer is given a job it usually comes with a need date that emphasizes urgency; he's going to reach for the tool he's comfortable with. And if he's been using MatLab for four plus years at school . . .

Yet I have (using Mathcad) taken force and position time history data and extracted spring and damping values for a test article (with units.) And when the dynamicist (who is supposed to do that for a living) came back with his MatLab results Mathcad unit verification found his/MatLab's unit conversion error. Could I get him to switch? HA!

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

Fred Kohlhepp wrote:

Floating site licenses for MatLab are about three times the cost of a "chair" of Mathcad (I've been told.

From the quotes I got :

  • Seat licenses of Matlab are 3 times the cost of seat licenses of Mathcad
  • Floating licenses of either software are 3 times the cost of seat licenses

And that doesn't include any Matlab toolbox.

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

Adrien Thurin wrote:

Fred Kohlhepp wrote:

Floating site licenses for MatLab are about three times the cost of a "chair" of Mathcad (I've been told.

From the quotes I got :

  • Seat licenses of Matlab are 3 times the cost of seat licenses of Mathcad
  • Floating licenses of either software are 3 times the cost of seat licenses

The reply I got (when they refused to buy my individual license any longer) was that the floating license was more versatile and productive since different individuals could use it--it would see more use that a solo license.

Re: Should my Students Use Prime 3.0 or MCAD 15?

So I have been told too.

Interestingly, some other companies have fares that I find less prohibitive (a couple of simulators for electronics only charge you 20 to 30% extra for the floating licenses, which is quite acceptale in my opinion)