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Indian Institute of Technology Delhi Integrates MATLAB Throughout Master’s Level Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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Screenshot from an animation created by the MATLAB based software ReDySim (Recursive Dynamics Simulator)
Screenshot from an animation created by the MATLAB based software ReDySim (Recursive Dynamics Simulator).

“We wanted software our students could use for numerical computation, mathematical modeling, and data visualization. The software had to be easy to learn, interactive, applicable to many disciplines, and useful for years to come. MATLAB fulfilled all those objectives and more.”

Dr. Subir Kumar Saha, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) is among the most highly ranked engineering institutions in India. One of IIT Delhi’s principal objectives is to establish world-class interdisciplinary teaching and research programs in applied science and engineering.

To help meet this objective, IIT Delhi integrated MATLAB® throughout the mechanical engineering graduate curriculum, which includes courses in mechatronics, robotics, and the dynamics of multibody systems. MATLAB is also used at the undergraduate level, in student competitions, and in research projects aimed at solving the engineering problems faced by rural industries in India.

“MATLAB makes the study of complex concepts more interesting because it lets students quickly generate results and then plot or animate them via an interactive interface—they don’t get bogged down in low-level programming details,” says Dr. Subir Kumar Saha, professor in the department of mechanical engineering at IIT Delhi. “MATLAB also enables mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science students to work in a single environment on problems that span their domains.”


In the past, IIT Delhi faculty members were reluctant to assign difficult problems because students had few effective options for solving them. “I was unable to set complex assignments that would give students a better understanding of the subject,” says Dr. Saha. “Students did not have enough time to complete assignments—such as analyzing the kinematics of a four-bar linkage—that required advanced programming skills.”

The faculty wanted to provide students with computational tools that were easy to learn. More importantly, they wanted the students to solve and visualize complex problems across multiple engineering disciplines and to better understand the underlying principles involved. “To prepare students for careers in industry and academia, we must get them to thoroughly understand the concepts, not merely learn a software package,” says Dr. Saha.


IIT Delhi acquired a centralized concurrent license for MATLAB and integrated MATLAB across the mechanical engineering curriculum.

In the graduate-level courses Design of Mechanisms and Manipulators, Multibody Systems & Vibration Design, and Dynamics of Multibody Systems, students use MATLAB to solve sets of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) with a variety of solvers. They also complete increasingly sophisticated projects that require the use of ODE solvers, matrix operations, and animation.

To complete assignments in the course Robotics, students use MATLAB matrix operations and trigonometric functions to analyze the forward and inverse kinematics of robots.

At the undergraduate level, students use MATLAB to complete their computer science and electrical engineering coursework, as well as their mechanical engineering final-year projects.

MATLAB is also used extensively for research at IIT Delhi. Dr. Saha and his colleagues lead the Multibody Dynamics for Rural Applications (MuDRA) projects, in which they use MATLAB to improve the productivity of rural industrial processes. In one project, they developed a MATLAB model for the design of a hand-knotted carpet weaving loom. This model can be customized based on the needs of a specific rural area and used by manufacturing technicians to improve efficiency.

An IIT Delhi Ph.D. candidate developed a MATLAB based general-purpose solver for walking robots, which incorporates efficient recursive inverse and forward dynamics algorithms for simulation and control of multibody dynamic systems.

Students and faculty recently began using Simulink® as a complement to MATLAB for robotics design projects. IIT Delhi Ph.D. candidates use Simulink and SimMechanics to model robots and their control systems. Starting with a CAD assembly imported into SimMechanics, they construct a physical model of the robot. They then use Simulink to model the robot’s dynamics, develop control laws, and run closed-loop simulations.

One goal of this effort is to provide the Simulink and SimMechanics models to IIT Delhi graduate students, who will use and enhance them in robotics courses.


  • Assignment completion and grading simplified. “Before we obtained a centralized concurrent license, our students had to wait for lab computers,” says Dr. Saha. “Now students can work on assignments wherever it is most convenient, including their own rooms. Checking assignments also became easier because the professor, teaching assistants, and students exchange MATLAB files.”
  • Student interest in course materials increased. “When students are sidetracked by programming, they lose interest in the subject they are studying,” says Dr. Saha. “MATLAB provides an interactive interface that makes it easy to generate plots and animations. These capabilities capture the students’ interest, and help them understand complex concepts.”
  • Students prepared for real-world engineering problems. “My students learn how each MATLAB solver works, not just how to use it,” says Dr. Saha. “In their careers, if they encounter a problem and have access to MATLAB, they’ll have a direct advantage. Even without MATLAB, they will know how to apply the principles better for having used it at IIT Delhi.”


Help graduate engineering students learn complex concepts via visualization and interactive exploration


Integrate MATLAB throughout the engineering curriculum and make it available campus-wide to students, professors, and researchers


  • Assignment completion and grading simplified
  • Student interest in course materials increased
  • Students prepared for real-world engineering problems

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