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An Experiment Based Structural Dynamics Course For Engineering Technology Students

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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

Unique Laboratory Experiments and Programs

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.187.1 - 11.187.19



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Paper Authors


Jorge Tito-Izquierdo University of Houston-Downtown

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Jorge Tito-Izquierdo is Visiting Associate Professor of Engineering Technology. Dr. Tito-Izquierdo received his Ph.D. and M. Sc. Degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in Civil Engineering with a major in Structures. He received the Civil Engineer Degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Dr. Tito has experience in teaching structural design, and construction management, and is a Registered Professional Engineer.

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Alberto Gomez-Rivas University of Houston-Downtown

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Alberto Gomez-Rivas is Professor of Structural Analysis and Chair of Engineering Technology. Dr. Gomez-Rivas received Ph.D. degrees from the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, in Civil Engineering and from Rice University, Houston, Texas, in Economics. He received the Ingeniero Civil degree, with Honors, from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He also served as Chief of Colombia’s Department of Transportation Highway Bridge Division.

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Weining Feng University of Houston

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Weining Feng is Associate Professor of Process Control and Instrumentation in the Engineering Technology Department, University of Houston-Downtown. Dr. Feng received a Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, in 1990. She is in charge developing UHD’s Control and Instrumentation laboratories and serves as coordinator of the Control and Instrumentation program.

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George Pincus University of Houston-Downtown

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George Pincus is Dean of the College of Sciences and Technology, and Professor at the University of Houston-Downtown (1986-date). Prior service includes Dean of the Newark College of Engineering and Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology (1986-1994). Dean Pincus received the Ph.D. degree from Cornell University and the M.B.A degree from the University of Houston. Dr. Pincus has published over 40 journal articles, 2 books and is a Registered Professional Engineer.

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This paper describes a Structural Dynamics course for engineering technology students with emphasis on the understanding of the theoretical concepts by using lab experiments. The experiments involve a minimum amount of equipment. The experiments are of increasing levels of theoretical complexity. The first two experiments involve single degree of freedom systems. The first one is a mass-spring system with translational motion, and the second is a rotational beam with an added mass and a spring attached to develop an understanding of the rotational inertia and resulting natural frequency. The third experiment consists of a simply supported aluminum beam which is used to compare the theoretical and experimental values of the first three natural frequencies via a frequency- domain data analysis. The fourth and fifth experiments use a simply supported reinforced concrete beam and a simply supported prestressed concrete beam made by the students in the Reinforced Concrete and Prestressed Concrete courses. The first natural frequencies of the original beams were obtained experimentally and compared with the theoretical values showing good agreement. Also, the natural frequency shows a reduction, after testing of the beams up to the ultimate (cracked) condition. These experiments show that the first natural frequency changes with the integrity of the beams. The sixth experiment consisted of finding the first two natural frequencies of a steel frame model. The properties of the frame were obtained using the geometry and results of static tests. The frame was then dynamically excited with an electromagnetic device actuated by an electronic signal generator. The theoretical values of natural frequencies were obtained using structural analysis software and they showed good agreement with the experimental results. Engineering Technology students increase their understanding of how dynamic systems perform while also learning laboratory techniques for dynamic response testing. Verifying laboratory obtained natural frequency against theoretically computed values provides students with robust knowledge of dynamic system behavior.


Structural Dynamics is an important subject for engineering technology students, because the principles are essential for understanding different conditions such as vibration control, earthquake and wind impact design. Structural Dynamics involves difficult theoretical and practical concepts for a typical under-graduate engineering technology student. However, if the course is taught using computer programs and experimental tests with data acquisition systems, the learning curve of the main concepts of structural dynamics may be improved. This approach is used in the Department of Engineering Technology, University of Houston – Downtown.

Tito-Izquierdo, J., & Gomez-Rivas, A., & Feng, W., & Pincus, G. (2006, June), An Experiment Based Structural Dynamics Course For Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--912

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