BEng Mechanical Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Tools for Engineers (Mechanical)

Course unit fact file
Unit code MECH12301
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No


Solidworks   is a parametric computer aided design (CAD) package, which is widely used in the aerospace and mechanical engineering industries. It is commonly used for the design of components. It usually starts with a 2D sketch to define an object’s geometry, using, for example, points, lines, arcs and splines. Dimensions are added to the sketch to define the geometry’s size and the location of the geometry’s features, such has holes, slots, etc. Relations are used to define attributes such as tangency, parallelism, perpendicularity and concentricity. The parametric nature of Solidworks means that the dimensions and relations drive the geometry.

Matlab is a matrix-based programming language for technical computing that has a library of in-built functions.  A program is a set of instructions or commands written (or “coded”) in a specific language that enables the computer to perform a set of tasks.  The variables used in the Matlab language are matrices of arbitrary dimension, hence the name “MATrix LABoratory”.  The programs can themselves use pre-written pieces of code (functions, aka subroutines) and the Matlab environment also allows the user to write their own custom functions to use within their programs.  By the end of the course, students should be able to write the necessary code to perform a variety of numerical tasks such as curve fitting of experimental data or the solution of a structural beam design problem that would be too complex to perform by hand calculations.

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates


The unit consists of two parts, both covering the use of computer software for solving engineering problems. The parts are: Computer Aided Design (CAD) using Solidworks and Programming using Matlab.

Solidworks:   The aim of this part of Tools is that, on completion of their study, students should have attained a level of competence which enables them firstly, to produce 3D models and drawings of reasonably complex objects and secondly, to be capable of further advancing and improving their use of Solidworks by self study.

Matlab:  The aim is to introduce sufficient of the Matlab programming language that students are enabled to perform a variety of numerical tasks involved in the solution of engineering problems, particularly including data manipulation and analysis, and calculations relating to engineering design problems.



  1. 2D sketch creation:
  •  Create and defined sketch geometry from which a 3D model is created.
  1. Model creation:
  • Give a sketch volume/depth, turning a 2D sketch to 3D sketch with volume.
  1. Drawing generation from 3D model:
  • Produce a technical engineering drawing using the data held within a 3Dmodel to enable parts to be manufactured. Topics covered within this part of the module are, setting up of drawing sheets, creating drawing views of components and applying dimension schemes. 
  1. The creation of engineering assemblies:
  • Generate an assembly, with its assembly drawing, which is needed for designs comprising of a number of components (also called “parts”).
  1. Bill of Materials:
  • The creation of a Bill of Materials (BOM) or parts list:  The BOM lists each part number, part name, part quantity and the material the part is made from. It thus provides information in addition to the assembly drawing. For small assemblies, the parts list is part of the assembly drawing.
  1. Surfaces
  • The creation and use of flat, curved and blended surfaces in CAD.   The method that is commonly used in industry to create 3D surfaces is explained. This involves the use of curves and splines from which 3D surface are created. The creation of blended surfaces between adjacent curved surfaces is an essential part of the design process in the automotive and aerospace industries. 


  1. Introduction:
    • Matlab working environment, basic commands.
    • Meaning of variables, their values (numeric or character), dimension, creation and use.
    • Writing elementary programs (script files).
  2. Vectors (i.e. one-dimensional matrices/arrays):
    •  Creation of vector variables and their manipulation.
    •   Use of vectors: plotting (graphics), strings, solution of polynomial problems (including data fitting).
  3. Programming language constructs and logical sequence:
    • Programming language constructs for repetition (loops) and conditional tasks:  FOR, WHILE statements, IF statement, FIND function.
    •  Logical sequence within programs: algorithms and the use of flowcharts to express them.
  4. Custom functions (subroutines)
    • Writing custom functions.
    • Their use within a main program, enabling structured programming.
  5. Two-dimensional matrix variables (two-dimensional arrays) and their manipulation.

Assessment methods

in class test - Solidworks 37.5%, Matlab 25%

Assessed tutorial work - Solidworks 12.5%, Matlab 25%


Feedback methods

in class test - Solidworks -  Personalised individual feedback via email for In class test, Matlab: by return of students in January (via feedback sheet on Blackboard)

Assessed tutorial work - Solidworks - Generic feedback via email for exercises 1-5 (completed in timetabled class), Matlab: within 2 weeks from handout (Part A via Turnitin’s annotation facility; Part B via Blackboard’s automated marking system

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 16
Lectures 6
Tutorials 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 48

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Azam Tafreshi Unit coordinator

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