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An Interdisciplinary Vibrations/Structural Dynamics Course For Civil And Mechanical Students With Integrated Hands On Laboratory Exercises

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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

Innovative and Computer-Assisted Lab Studies

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.202.1 - 11.202.11



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Paper Authors


Richard Helgeson University of Tennessee-Martin

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Richard Helgeson is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Dr. Helgeson received B.S. degrees in both electrical and civil engineering, an M.S. in electral engineering, and a Ph.D. in structural engineering from the University of Buffalo. He actively involves his undergraduate students in mutli-disciplinary earthquake structural control research projects. He is very interested in engineering educational pedagogy, and has taught a wide range of engineering courses.

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

An Interdisciplinary Vibrations/Structural Dynamics Course for Civil and Mechanical Students with Integrated Hands-on Laboratory Exercises

Abstract The University of Tennessee at Martin offers a multi-disciplinary general engineering program with concentrations in civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering. In this paper the author discusses the development of an engineering course that is taken by both civil and mechanical engineering students. The course has been developed over a number of years, and during that time an integrated laboratory experience has been developed to support the unique interests of both groups of students. The course is required for all mechanical engineering students, while the civil engineering students may take the course as an upper division elective. To insure the success of the course, the author has structured the course to attract both groups of students. This paper discusses the course content and laboratory structure. Particular attention is given to developing the course content so that it is clear to the students that the theory applies to both disciplines. The laboratory exercises have been developed so that they immediately follow the appropriate lecture material. The major concepts covered in the lecture are measured and verified in the lab. Custom designed laboratory apparatus has been incorporated into the laboratory, as well as state-of-the-art transducers, signal conditioning equipment, and data acquisition systems using Matlab as the data acquisition software. The laboratory includes both linear and rotational experiments, and the required laboratory reports use several different report formats with emphasize on clear, concise writing style. All experiments include analysis, testing, and simulation, and the students are required to explain any differences between theory and the measured experimental results. The course culminates with an open-ended laboratory based project in which the students must apply the concepts and techniques learned in the course to characterize a ¼-scale three-story building.

Evolution of the Vibrations/Structural Dynamics Laboratory This course has three hours of lecture and one three-hour lab per week. Prior to 1999 only one laboratory period in the course had been used to perform experiments. At that time a group of important topics from a traditional vibrations textbook1 were selected and simple experiments to illustrate those principles were developed. Matlab2 and Simulink3 were purchased to support the lab portion of the course. A small shake table was also purchased and has been incorporated into the course. Finally, in an effort to entice civil engineering students to become involved in senior projects involving earthquake and wind excitation in civil engineering structures, the course was advertised as applicable to both mechanical and civil engineering students.

Over the next three years additional funds were allocated to purchase linear amplifier/filter units as preprocessing for a data acquisition capability, followed by the purchase of state-of-the-art workbenches with six stations each accommodating four students, and the vibrations lab was moved into a dedicated location. More recently new test equipment has been purchased for each station, including a PC computer with LCD display, a 16-digital and two-analog data acquisition board per station, 60Mhz oscilloscope, DC power supply, frequency counter, power supply, and bench top as well as a handheld multimeter. Finally transducers accelerometers and LVDTs

Helgeson, R. (2006, June), An Interdisciplinary Vibrations/Structural Dynamics Course For Civil And Mechanical Students With Integrated Hands On Laboratory Exercises Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--575

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