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An Interactive Steel Connection Teaching Tool - A Virtual Structure

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.171.1 - 24.171.18



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Paper Authors


Saeed Moaveni Minnesota State University, Mankato

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SAEED MOAVENI is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Dr. Moaveni has over 25 years of teaching and professional practice experience and is a registered P.E. in New York.

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Karen C. Chou Northwestern University

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Karen C. Chou, Ph.D., P.E. is Assistant Chair and Clinical Professor at Northwestern University. Dr. Chou has over 30 years of teaching and professional experience and is a registered P.E. in 7 states. She was a recipient of Charles W. Britzius Distinguished Engineer Award from the Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science and Technology Societies and the Civil Engineer of the Year from the Illinois Section ASCE.

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An Interactive Steel Connection Teaching Tool – A Virtual Structure Saeed Moaveni1 and Karen C. Chou2NSF TUES Grant No. 1140468, 1252371, and 1140563TUES Alternate Lead Program Director: Susan Finger, NSF Division of UndergraduateEducation (DUE), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) AbstractSteel connections play important roles in the integrity of a structure, and many structural failures areattributed to connection failures. Connections are the glue that holds a structure together. The failures ofthe Hartford Civic Center in 1977, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City in 1980, and the I-35WBridge in Minneapolis in 2007 are attributed to connection failures. A good connection design requiresengineer to have a good understanding of the mechanics and steel behavior. The engineer also shouldknow the fabricator’s limitations and experience. In the past 20 years, in order to help students betterunderstand various connection types; many schools (over 130) have acquired steel sculptures. A steelsculpture is a physical system that shows forty-eight types of connections found in standard constructionpractices. Unfortunately, because of its size and location (eight feet tall, weighs nearly 2500 pounds andusually erected outdoor), students do not always have easy access to it. Moreover, today’s students whobelong to the Google generation are more comfortable with web-based learning tools. A web-basedinteractive version of the steel sculpture is created to provide an effective learning opportunity and 24-7access to students and educators in the United States and abroad. This presentation is the result of a collaborative effort between two universities and students fromtwo different engineering programs – civil engineering and mechanical engineering. The virtual sculpturewas created to allow the users the freedom to rotate or pan the sculpture so that they can view the entiresculpture at any orientation. The users may also isolate any one of the 48 connections for a closer view orselect one of the following for a detail discussion of the connection: description of the connection,potential failure modes (limit states), sample calculations of each limit state to determine the load carryingcapacity of the connection, field examples, and 3-dimensioanl (3-D) numerical modeling. The 3-Dmodeling is to provide a visual display of stresses developed in the connection under load. The virtual sculpture was developed using Adobe software. This allows users access to thevirtual sculpture without purchasing any special software. A web page was developed where users candownload the virtual sculpture. Three surveys were developed with a slightly different focus to seekfeedback from the users. One survey focuses on the students’ feedback, a second one focuses on theinstructors’ feedback, and the third one focuses on, but not restricted to, the junior engineers’ feedback.All users are invited to complete these online surveys after they have an opportunity to explore the virtualsculpture. A demonstration on the navigation of the virtual sculpture will be conducted during the posterpresentation.1 Minnesota State University, Mankato2 Northwestern University

Moaveni, S., & Chou, K. C. (2014, June), An Interactive Steel Connection Teaching Tool - A Virtual Structure Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20062

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