ELEN214---Engineering Applied Computing 1997

A second year, first semester course

Lecturer: (For 1997) Dr. A. R. Clark

Ability development

The digital computer is the engineer's most important tool. Engineers use computers to carry out calculations and simulations, to store and manipulate information, to communicate via networks, to control equipment, and to prepare drawings and documents. This course is designed to introduce second year students in the Faculty of Engineering to some of the concepts and techniques associated with modern computing.

This course has been designed to give the student a good understanding of what computers are and how they work, their limitations, strengths and weaknesses, and a questioning approach to interpreting results obtained from computer programs.

By the end of the course students should be ``computer literate''. They should be able to use a computer productively in their professional life and should have sufficient background knowledge to be able to easily teach themselves to use new software packages. In particular, on successfully completing this course, students should:

Course Content

Introduction to Computers and Computing

Computer Software - Standard Software Packages


Structured Programming

Teaching arrangements


This course will be lectured by Dr. Alan Clark (Room CM-4.223; 716-5404; email at clark@odie.ee.wits.ac.za). There will be two lectures per week, on Wednesday at 11h15--12h00 and on Thursdays at 12h15--13h00, both held in GLT. Although the University Senate has ruled that attendance at lectures is not compulsory, lectures will be used to supplement course notes, and this supplementary information will be examinable. Announcements relating to the course will also be made in lectures from time to time.

Laboratory work

All Second Year Engineering students registered for this course (ELEN214) will have 24 hour access to the Faculty PC Laboratory in Room A1.122, Ground Floor, Chamber of Mines Building on West Campus. Students must work in groups of two during the formal laboratory sessions. Each student will be required to complete all of the laboratory exercises as specified during the course. Two hours per week are allocated for such work. Laboratory attendance is indispensable for the understanding of course material; marks earned in labs will contribute towards the final mark for the course (see below). The relevant laboratory exercise must be read, discussed with your partner and understood before the start of each lab session. The laboratory will be fully supervised in 2 sessions on Wednesday and Friday from 13h30--17h30. The student must ensure that the laboratory exercise is marked before the end of the relevant session. The demonstrators are not compelled to remain in the laboratory beyond 17h30. A more detailed Laboratory schedule will be available during the first week of lectures on the PC Lab notice board. You must select a lab partner for the duration of the course. During lab registration you will be assigned a workstation and session. The assigned workstation will be used by you and your partner during all formal lab sessions (as well as the practical test) for the duration of the course: any faulty equipment must be reported promptly for repairs.


Learning to use a computer effectively requires a lot of practice. Students are expected to spend an extra 4 hours per week of their own time practising material covered during lectures. Some extra reading material may also be provided.


All questions arising from the Laboratory exercises and project must be directed to the responsible demonstrators. Questions relating to use of the laboratory and its equipment must be directed to the chief demonstrator. Questions relating to lectures and course material must be directed to Dr Clark either during lectures or during formal consultation periods. Details of these periods will be discussed in class.

Assessment details

The final mark for Engineering Applied Computing will be made up as follows:

Lab work: Feb. to May 15%
Prac Test: 21 April 1 hour test run on the PC 15%
Project: 1 Mar. to May Programming and documentation 20%
Final Exam: TBA Multiple choice and written questions 50%

The final exam will be time-tabled within the June Examination period. It will be of 2 hours duration and will cover all material covered in the course. No calculators or any reference material may be used in the exam.

Information base for the course

There is no prescribed text book for this course. The course notes, together with laboratory exercises and lectures, will cover the entire syllabus. In addition, many books which cover aspects of this course are available in various libraries on campus. The following items will be issued on registration. The cost of the items has already been covered by the course's tuition fees. R10 will be refunded when the access card is returned at the end of the course:

Although a Personal Computer is not a requirement for any Engineering course, it is strongly recommended as a useful tool from the second year of study onwards. DOS, Matlab and Turbo C 3.0 will be available on the network in the PC Laboratory and need only be purchased by students who intend to do assignments outside the laboratory.

Administrative details

The noticeboard next to the PC laboratory will be used to display any relevant course information which may arise during the course. This includes laboratory schedules, marks, etc. Students must periodically check the noticeboard for any new information on the course.

Since 19 February 1999.