Using Excel for engineering calculations? Think again

Excel was originally designed for tabulating basic accounting and finance figures and calculations using rows and columns. Since then, it has evolved over time to add math functions, but stayed true to its original grid format.

Excel is a convenient choice, but is it the right choice for engineers?

The big difference between Mathcad and Excel

engineering math formula in excel

Engineering math in Excel

This is what typical engineering math may look like in Excel. Your hopes of communicating engineering knowledge are easily lost in the chaos of cell references and parentheses. Spreadsheet math is error-prone, and it’s very difficult to check and validate your work. Excel also doesn’t have engineering units, so readers don’t even know what this formula is for.

engineering math formula in PTC Mathcad Prime

Engineering math in PTC Mathcad

PTC Mathcad was designed to meet the needs of engineers. This is the same sample equation as what’s in Excel, but Mathcad’s natural math notation represents it like it’s right from a math textbook. Any engineer can look at and validate the formula. Plus, Mathcad keeps track of units, which lets you know that this is a formula for mechanical energy.

Mathcad’s approach to engineering calculations

Choose Mathcad… because Excel just can’t compete.

Mathcad gives engineers an application purposely built for engineering math. It visually represents math in an intuitive way, making it easy to define, understand, and manipulate engineering calculations with the whiteboard-like user interface.

Natural math notations
Units intelligence
Higher-level math

Natural math notations

Access to math notations and symbols makes it easy to construct equations. Equations are entered as they appear in a reference book, with the ability to use English and Greek characters in standard math operations.

Units intelligence

Mathcad allows you to automatically recognize and convert to “like” units, eliminating unit conversion and rounding errors. Automatic conversions between imperial and metric systems are also possible, and you can define custom units for specific applications.

Higher-level math

Mathcad provides more than 700 built-in mathematical functions for powerful numeric and symbolic math, allowing you to numerically solve algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, differential equations, and more. Symbolic capabilities eliminate mistakes when performing hand calculations.


Mathcad is more than just a calculator, but an engineering notebook, allowing users to combine text, math, graphics, and annotations in a single worksheet.


Best of both worlds: Use Mathcad and Excel together

If you’re convinced that you should use Mathcad for your engineering over Excel, that doesn’t mean you have to trash your Excel spreadsheets and convert them into Mathcad. You can use the two programs together and leverage their respective strengths—Excel’s data storage, and Mathcad’s calculations and documentation—because they are tightly integrated and interoperable. Mathcad can read Excel data and will automatically update if the spreadsheet changes. Mathcad can also write back into Excel spreadsheets.

PTC Mathcad Express Free Download

You can try our PTC Mathcad trial for free for 30 days and check out the Excel integration for yourself. It’s easy to get going!