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An Elective Course On Computational Techniques In Structural Mechanics With A Balance In Theory And Application

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Mechanics, Machine Design & Mechanisms

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.156.1 - 10.156.9



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Paper Authors

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John Baker

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

An Elective Course on Computational Techniques in Structural Mechanics with a Balance in Theory and Application

John R. Baker Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Kentucky

With ever increasing readily available computer power, and more sophisticated commercial structural analysis software, it seems that mechanical engineering graduates who plan to do design work will be much better prepared for the workplace if they have a good background in both theory and application of modern computer-based structural analysis techniques. Various universities offer courses which focus on numerical techniques, which may be applied to structural system analysis. Also, many programs offer courses on finite element analysis, which may include application. Many such courses, at the undergraduate level, may not include much background on dynamic system analysis, or on nonlinearities. This paper overviews a new elective course at the University of Kentucky, “Computational Techniques in Mechanical System Analysis”, for both graduate students and upper-level undergraduates, which seeks a balance between theory and application, and focuses on providing the students with a basic understanding of computational methods in static and dynamic structural system analysis, including nonlinear systems. This course includes significant use of commercial software, such as the ANSYS finite element package and MATLAB. Student work includes some programming, primarily using the MATLAB m-file functionality, for analyzing some relatively small systems. For example, students write programs for employing the Newton-Raphson method in large-deflection nonlinear static analysis, and the central difference method in linear dynamic structural analysis. While the students develop familiarity with the numerical methods through writing short programs and applying them to relatively simple systems, they also gain an appreciation for how these techniques can be applied to analyze more complex “real-world” systems through assignments involving the commercial finite element code, ANSYS.

The course was offered via distance learning for the first time in Spring, 2004. It will be offered a second time in Spring, 2005. This paper discusses course goals, course assignments, lessons learned from the first course offering, and planned modifications for the second course offering.

I. Introduction

The University of Kentucky has an Extended Campus Engineering Program in Paducah, KY1, offering BS degrees in mechanical and chemical engineering. The course described in this paper originates from the Paducah campus, but is also offered to undergraduate and graduate students on the main campus in Lexington via Interactive Television (ITV). “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Baker, J. (2005, June), An Elective Course On Computational Techniques In Structural Mechanics With A Balance In Theory And Application Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14901

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