File decompression software, such as Winzip® or StuffIt®, is required to open the .zip files in this section. The .zip files contain additional files which require software as well. MATLAB® software is required to run the .m files. Mathcad® software is required to view and run the .mcd files.

Index of Software Design Tools

Design Collaboration Tools

Peer Review Evaluation Process or PREP Tool

The PREP tool is an online tool that allows the Rohrbach or PREP process to be performed using the computer. Members of a peer review group can setup their review sessions, submit their ideas, and review them using any software application. This tool is optional for 2.007 students.

Microsoft® OneNote 2003 Software

For MIT students, Microsoft® has made the OneNote 2003 software available to you for free.

Jarnal Software

Jarnal is open source software written in Java®. It has many features of the Windows® Journal and Microsoft® OneNote 2003 software. It can be used on any operating system that can run Java® and is completely free! This software can be used as an element of the Peer Review Evaluation Process (PREP Tool) or as a Design Notebook.

Solid Modeling Tools

MIT has three software packages available for CAD/CAE. Many of the UA's and TA's have experience with SolidWorks® and Pro/Engineer®. Unigraphics® and ADAMS are new to MIT and assistance with the software is more rare.

  1. Unigraphics® and ADAMS

Analysis Tools

Crucial to success in any design are the engineering calculations that you carry out to determine if your design will be able to do what you want it to do. To assist you with these calculations, a number of sample files are provided below. However, it is strongly recommended that you not use the spreadsheets to blindly crunch numbers. Instead, they should be used as models and guides in the creation of your own spreadsheets that are tailored to your specific design.

Microsoft® Excel

Excel is the basic spreadsheet program included with Microsoft® Office. It has similar counterparts in the WordPerfect and Open Office systems. These programs are useful as they can handle large quantities of numerical data fairly easily. This is good for displaying multiple designs side by side, although you can not take advantage of the ability to give the cells meaningful names in this case. Also, these programs cannot display formulas in easily viewable and checkable formats. Grading or reviewing a design done in Excel is difficult because you can't see the equations that were used. So, you have to have additional paperwork to show the equations used for each cell. It is very tedious to enter and solve linear systems in spreadsheets. Excel is available anywhere with Office (MechE clusters) or in Open Office for free anywhere.

Example Spreadsheet Files

Due to the huge number of spreadsheet files available, they live on their own Spreadsheet Page.


MATLAB® is good for doing big numerical analysis, programming, control system analysis, and iterative solutions of problems. MATLAB® code can be difficult to read, understand, and grade if it is not commented well and variables are not given meaningful names. With proper commenting and naming, MATLAB® can be quite useful and reusable. It has very nice plotting features and is good at solving linear systems, but entering the matrices can be a pain. MATLAB® is available in the MechE clusters, but not easily available for home use. Octave is an open source MATLAB®-like program which can be downloaded from the web.

Example MATLAB® Files

Gear Train Ratio Optimization, (ZIP) (The ZIP file contains: 1 .m file, 1 .fig file, and 5 .txt files.) MATLAB® code to assist in the selection of the gear train ratio for the Tamiya motor kits. Instructions (PDF - 1.1 MB)
Four-bar Linkage Animation, fourbar1.m (M) MATLAB® code for animation of four-bar linkage design.
mtrpwr.m (M) Plots the torque speed curve and power curves for given values of stall torque and no load speed.
recinert.m (M) Calculates the cross sectional inertia for rectangular cross sections (hollow and filled). All units must be consistent.
cirinert.m (M) Calculates the cross sectional inertia for circular cross sections (hollow and filled). All units must be consistent.
cantbeam.m (M) Shows the deflection of a cantilevered beam loaded from one or more points by one or more forces.
simpbeam.m (M) Shows the deflection of a simple beam supported at either end, loaded from 1 or more points.


Mathcad® is a software package which allows you to do complex mathematic analysis that looks like normal math, instead of code like MATLAB®. Mathcad® is the easiest to read by far, complicated equations can be typed in very quickly, and it keeps track of units for you. These three features make it very easy to write, catch errors, and grade. It is very easy to enter and solve linear systems, but more difficult to write programs and become used to the format. Mathcad® also has a huge library of reference material in mechanical engineering available within the program and on the web. You can run Mathcad® in the MIT computer labs.

Example Mathcad® Files

Worksheets DESCRIPTIONS (MCD) Calculations for beam bending.