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Students will do almost anything to avoid using thermal-property tables. In this paper, Matlab-based thermal-property software is described as an enticement for students to do computer programming in the design of thermal systems. Downloaded shareware was used for steam properties in a steam-cycle project, and an air-property package was developed for use with a gas-turbine project. Although the use of computer programming required considerable effort by both instructor and students, most students did gain a better appreciation of the utility of writing computer programs as part of engineering design. Student evaluations of the course were not significantly affected compared to semesters in which computer programming was not encouraged.