Asee peer logo

A Musical Twist on the Standard Bridge Project

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Mechanics, Music, Meaning, and Mohr

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Vicki V. May Dartmouth College

visit author page

Vicki V. May, Ph.D., P.E. is an Instructional Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Her research focuses on engineering education and K-12 outreach. She teaches courses in solid mechanics, structural analysis, and design at Dartmouth. Prior to relocating to the east coast, Professor May was an Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

visit author page

Download Paper |


As part of an introductory solid mechanics course students designed, analyzed, and built sound-generating or musical bridges in small groups. The bridges will be used for an engineering-inspired composition to be performed in the spring of 2017.

The main goal of the project was to have students apply the theory discussed in class to design, analyze, and build sound-generating or musical bridges in small groups. Additional goals for the project were: to engage a broader demographic of students (specifically women and underrepresented minorities), help students build connections between engineering and music, and encourage students to be creative.

Students analyzed the forces, stresses, and deflections expected in their bridges. Further, they calculated stiffnesses and frequencies. And they carefully selected materials based on acoustical properties such as impedance and sound radiation.

Students reported learning more and being more engaged with the musical bridge project as compared to previous years when a more standard bridge project was used. Female students were more likely to recommend that the musical bridge project be used in future years.

May, V. V. (2017, June), A Musical Twist on the Standard Bridge Project Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27488

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015