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A Comparison Between The Engineering Mechanics Strength Of Materials Course In The Engineering, And Engineering Technology Programs At Penn State

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

What's New in Mechanics of Materials?

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.26.1 - 11.26.8



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Paper Authors

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Lucas Passmore Pennsylvania State University

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Aiman Kuzmar Pennsylvania State University-Fayette

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Comparison Between the Engineering Mechanics-Strength of Materials Course in the Engineering, and Engineering Technology Programs at The Pennsylvania State University


Strength of materials is a critical and essential course for both engineering and engineering technology students with a mechanical focus such as those in the mechanical, civil, industrial, and aerospace engineering and engineering technology disciplines. It provides a fundamental understanding of the mechanical properties of various materials which makes them useful for a multitude of applications. It also provides an introduction to the analysis of statically indeterminate structures which allows more complex problems to be solved than is possible with statics analysis alone. These important topics are, however, approached in different ways for traditional engineering, and engineering technology students here at Penn State. The similarities and differences in the two courses are addressed in this paper. The paper also explains the importance of this comparison to the students and the educators in both fields.


Engineering and engineering technology share many of the same attributes. Nonetheless, the two disciplines are distinct from each other in various ways. The main difference between the two programs at Penn State, is that engineering technology focuses more on hands on application of engineering principles while engineering is more focused on the theoretical side of the subject. For example, in the strength of materials course, while a traditional engineering student is more likely to simply learn the theory behind axial deformation due to a tensile load, and see a stress- strain curve in their textbook, the engineering technology student spends time in a lab using a tension tester, and generating his/her own stress-strain curve. The availability of these two different programs provides good options for students who have diverse needs in an academic program. For those looking to go on and run a lab, or attend a graduate program, the traditional engineering tract seems to be the better approach. But for the student who would prefer to “get their hands dirty”, engineering technology provides an opportunity to learn the same concepts, but with an added component of direct application to well defined existing problems. This approach of teaching engineering and engineering technology courses is supported by ABET’s criteria.1,2

Upon graduation, both groups of students go on to serve important roles in an industrial setting. The two groups end up working together in the same environment, sharing many of the same responsibilities. Each group also has strengths where the other has weaknesses. This allows for the two groups to have good synergy in an industrial environment with each one supporting the other. Details on the similarities and differences in the education of engineering and engineering technology are well established in the literature.3

There are several common courses in the curricula of the engineering and engineering technology programs at Penn State. Some of these courses are offered separately in each program to fulfill the needs of each group. For instance, the subject of Statics is offered as

Passmore, L., & Kuzmar, A. (2006, June), A Comparison Between The Engineering Mechanics Strength Of Materials Course In The Engineering, And Engineering Technology Programs At Penn State Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--770

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