Computer aided manufacture, Computer Engineering

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  Before we take a detailed look about software languages, let us consider the role of computers in engineering. Computers are commonly used in the areas of 'Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacture' (CAD/CAM). Here the computer replaces some of the tedious, inaccurate tasks carried out by engineers. For example consider the draughtsman, whose job is to draw out the orthographic projection of a car engine etc. Traditionally he/she would use pencil, paper, and ruler and if mistakes happened it would have to be redrawn. A CAD system enables the draughtsman to draw electronically on the screen and store all the information (data) on a computer. Once the data is on the computer it can be manipulated to create new drawing and even produce direct information to control machines to produce the product (CAM). The same process applies to electronic circuit design i.e. Printed circuit boards and integrated circuits (Silicon Chips!).

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  Despite the complexity of the task, all engineering/business functions can be reduced into simple block diagrams. This is termed a structured design approach. Conceptually any design consists of three blocks: - Input, Output, Process 

 For example the draughtsman would be sending data to the process, using an electromechanical device e.g. keyboard (Electronic typewriter) , mouse ,optical pens , voice etc. The process then interprets the data and produces the output results i.e. drawing circle on output device. The output device is commonly a visual display unit (VDU) or printer .Commonly the input/output devices are keyboards and VDU's. However in the field of robotics the input devices are usually transducers and the output devices activators i.e. Motors etc. The process is usually implemented using a central processing unit (CPU) or a microprocessor device e.g. 68000, 80286 etc. The CPU has built-in a set of commands (instructions) which it understands i.e. Add, Mul (multiply) etc. The Process needs to be described in the set of instructions which the CPU can understand. This group of instructions is termed a Program and a programmer is a person who writes a group of CPU commands to achieve a process.


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