Finding engineering work quite unchallenging lately I decided to start this blog in which to share cool ways of solving engineering problems or just interesting modeling of natural phenomena in MS Excel 2003. I use mainly cell formulas with minimum of VBA in order to take advantage of the ease of “programming” and the native speed of the Excel spreadsheet.
Hi, my name is George, I am an electrical engineer and this is my blog. I currently live in Colorado.
Why bother with this blog?
- It’s science, it’s physics, it’s electronics, mechanics, games …you name it. You could also suggest future directions of development
- Engineering is coming back in force and it will rule again. There are too many parasitic occupations nowadays and that’s why the whole castle is falling apart.
- It might be boring at times but it’s very useful stuff. I will give it a sugar coating by producing “live” models with at least some catchy animations and sound effects
- You can understand most of it with just a high a school background. No computer language is necessary. A little visual basic (VBA) will be involved but you’ll learn that on-the-fly. We do search Wikipedia ocasionally here but as a last resort.
- If you follow this and begin to model your own ideas with your own methods you could build some real understanding of engineering. School is good for acquiring discipline and a background, but only you can teach yourself deep knowledge by personal experience. Learn by having fun!
- This blog it’s just a lure. The best and most effective teacher lives inside you.
- The most important aspect: no matter what you want to do, start by thinking before reading from someone else or asking someone else (no matter who). One month of continuous pondering can get you farther than a year of school and a year of reading. Trust me on this one, you are far smarter than you think (if you dare to use your mind). Be slow, speed is a big spoiler. The whole traditional education system is built on speed and superficiality. Don’t listen too much to your “external teachers”. Give instead, your “inner teacher” the respect he deserves. Again, trust me on this one, you won’t be disappointed.
- Excel is cheap and ubiquitous, everyone has it.
- Excel is a good environment to do complex programming without being a programmer (it gives you the feel of of a bread board). A donkey could use it…
- As opposed to regular programming languages, Excel is a two-dimensional programming canvass
- Excel has decent built in graphics (I personally prefer using 2D scatter plots)
- Excel is a matrix calculator and it’s wickedly fast (of course not as fast as C but faster than most of programs out there for large generic mathematical computations)
- Excel has decent GUI capabilities within the program itself
- Programming in Excel gives you more understanding of physical processes than “black box” type programs such as Matlab, Simulink, Octave since in Excel you build everything from basic formulas
All right, Excel, but why Excel 2003?
2007 is very slow and bugsy. I might be translating some of the models in Excel 2010 which seems to be decent tool.
And why Microsoft?
I have to admit that for scientific modeling, Excel is the best overall deal out there for the reasons I mentioned before. Though I am not against product evolution, I decry the drop in speed (mainly charting speed) in the last two versions of Excel. And by the way, while Open Office “Calc” is all right for filling taxes, it is about one order of magnitude slower than Excel for large calculations. I admire the open-source initiatives though.