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Utilizing the Full Range of MATLAB Capabilities in the Classroom
Since its origin as a platform for performing matrix calculations efficiently, MATLAB has developed into a sophisticated general-purpose programming language. It is now the platform of choice for introducing engineering students to computer programming, due to its flexibility and ease of use. Recent enhancements to MATLAB capabilities have created new opportunities for improving the efficiency of classroom instruction and for promotion of active and mastery learning. In this paper we discuss our experience in adopting a number of recent MATLAB enhancements in a second-year-level programming course for engineers at Ohio State. MATLAB Grader is used for automatic submission and grading of basic in-class exercises, while MATLAB Online’s folder-sharing capability serves as a vehicle for submission of assignments involving graphical user interfaces or other interactivity. For more extensive assignments that are not amenable to auto-grading, we have developed custom checker codes for students’ use in validating their code prior to submission. Interactive live scripts, in tandem with the Top Hat classroom platform, have supplanted static Powerpoint presentations to increase student engagement. In conjunction with these innovations, the course content has been re-designed to emphasize a more mature approach to application development based on modular programming. Increased emphasis has been placed on leveraging MATLAB’s unique capabilities for array processing, as well as less commonly used data structures, including cell, structure, and string arrays.