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Homework Help: Ideas for engineering/physics based MATLAB program.

  1. Dec 3, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    So, as part of a numerical methods module that I'm taking I have to write a report and MATLAB program which deals with some sort of engineering/physics based problem. The report essentially just outlines and discusses the problem. It's the initial idea which I'm looking for a bit of help with. We've covered a number of different topics such as root-finding, interpolation, optimisation, approximation and differentiation. Our MATLAB code should make use of one of the preceding topics.

    I'm having a bit of trouble coming up with a problem that I could solve. I'm either thinking up of something far too easy, and really doesn't require MATLAB at all, or something far too difficult that I wouldn't have the skill to implement it in MATLAB.

    We've taken introductory courses in fluid mechanics/dynamics, thermodynamics ,some introductory structural mechanics, general mechanics, physics (both classical and electro-magnetics) as well as some linear algebra and calculus. The report is only to be 2 pages long and the project in general isn't to be in too much detail. Thus, I'd like to come up with a semi-challenging problem although nothing too ridiculous.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Some initial ideas I had were to write a program capable of solving the Colebrook-White equation, which can be used to find the friction factor of a pipe for flow with an Re of 4000 or more. However, I found out that this doesn't really require the use of any root finding method (newton, fixed point iteration , bisection...) and so isn't suitable for this project.

    Some other ideas I've had were to solve the hight at which the terminal velocity of a sky diver occurs taking into account drag, but this, once again, doesn't require MATLAB to solve.

    Does anybody have any ideas, preferably involving some sort of root finding method?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    We use MATLAB a lot here at work in designing communication modem algorithms. You could look at various modulation schemes (BPSK, QPSK, OOFDM, etc.), and see if simulating a TX/RX modem pair in MATLAB might fit what you are looking for. We follow up our simulations with actual hardware designs, and go back and forth between hardware and MATLAB to refine and improve the modem's performance against various noise impairments. The hardware is faster to work with, but the MATLAB simulations offer better insights into how different optmization ideas are working...
  4. Dec 3, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Or maybe write a MATLAB program to control a large deformable mirror telescope in real time, based on atmospheric sensor data... There might be some interesting optimization code involved (but I don't know that much about such telescopes).

    Or maybe write a MATLAB program for optimized engine control for a car engine. You have lots of sensor inputs, including maybe a variable driver preference setting for performance versus fuel economy. Hopefully there is a lot of existing data on ICE efficiency and power versus all of the different possible sensor inputs that a modern engine can have...
  5. Dec 4, 2013 #4
    I have absolutely do idea how I'd even begin to go about doing that. I've just begun 2nd year Process Eng. so my knowledge of that sort of stuff would be limited. Like I said, it's only to be a very short project. We have 1-2 weeks to do it. Thanks for the input though. Any simpler, less involved ideas?
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