Physics students first see the symbolic mathematics package Maple in their calculus courses. They begin using this frequently in their second year physics courses.
At first, the applications are simple: having Maple handle derivatives and integrals, and perhaps a few simultaneous equations. Gradually, the students become more sophisticated in its use.
In the electronics course, students use Maple to solve Kirchoff's laws for circuits involving complex impedances. They also analyze the effects of filters on non-sinusoidal waveforms.
By the third year, physics students have come to rely on Maple for much of their mathematical manipulation. Faculty can assign more challenging and physically realistic problems, since Maple helps students through the math.
Prof. George Holzwarth calls on his students to use Maple extensively in teaching Physics 303-304, the Physics of Medicine and Biology, where students learn how some of the more complex mathematical operations of image processing work. Both Maple's symbolic manipulation and plotting capabilities are very useful. For example: