June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.73.1 - 22.73.14
A Multidisciplinary Investigation into Various Possible Geometries Of Imperial Roman Artillery: A Case StudyMultidisciplinary projects provide a unique opportunity to foster critical thinking inundergraduate engineering students and to help students develop an understanding of theresearch process. In addition, multidisciplinary projects which combine engineering analysis anda study of technological history are an interesting way to increase student interest in theengineering design process. In this paper, the authors will present a case study of one suchinterdisciplinary project, conducted by a undergraduate mechanical engineering student, in whichthe student investigated a Roman siege weapon, known as a ballista which is rather like a largecrossbow that uses torsion springs to shoot an arrow or a stone.In this case study, three different historical configurations of ballistae were analyzed andcompared by the students: 1. the earliest configuration, in which two torsion springs are set closetogether with the two arms projecting outward from the axis of the weapon, 2. a configuration inwhich the arms maintain the same orientation, but the torsion springs are set farther apart, and 3.a configuration in which the torsion springs are set in the same wider positioning, but areoriented such that they point toward the target. After the student analyzed each of these threeconfigurations, he conducted tests, using scale model ballistae, to see which configuration hadthe greatest initial projectile velocity, and compared these test results to those of an analyticmodel. Through his work with this multidisciplinary project, the student gained critical thinkingskills, since much of the actual design of these ballistae had to be reverse engineered due to thelack of detailed historical accounts. The student also gained a better understanding of theresearch process by having to identify and use various analytical tools and to develop appropriatetests. However, perhaps as importantly, through this multidisciplinary project, the student gaineda greater interest in engineering design and its applications.
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