Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.341.1 - 9.341.14
Continuum Mechanics as the First Mechanics Course
Jennifer Stroud Rossmann and Clive L. Dym Department of Engineering Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 91711–5990 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 909–621–8853 Fax: 909–621–8967
Abstract This paper describes an introductory course in continuum mechanics. Taught within Harvey Mudd College’s broad, unspecialized curriculum, the course is designed for second-semester sophomores or juniors who have not had any of the standard engineering courses in mechanics (i.e., statics, dynamics, or strength of materials). We describe in this paper the course’s development and its contents, including its many illustrative real-world case studies. We also show how it is uniquely positioned to demonstrate the connections between solid and fluid mechanics, as well as the larger mathematical issues shared by both fields, to students who have not yet taken courses in fluid mechanics and/or strength of materials. We also discuss our success in introducing continuum mechanics at such an early point in the curriculum, as we detail the course’s implementation over eight semesters, its assessment during that time, and the response of some 300 students who have taken the course.
Introduction Continuum mechanics is a course taken routinely by graduate students or, less frequently, by advanced undergraduates who are likely to go on to graduate work in mechanics. As a result of changes made within Harvey Mudd College’s broad, unspecialized engineering curriculum, we have developed an introduction to continuum mechanics for second-semester sophomores or juniors who have not had any of the standard engineering courses in mechanics (i.e., statics, dynamics, or strength of materials).
The essence of continuum mechanics, the internal response of materials to external loading, is often obscured by the complex mathematics of its formulation. By building gradually from one- dimensional to two- and three-dimensional formulations, we are able to make the essence of the subject more accessible to undergraduate students. From this gradual development of ideas, with many illustrative real-world case studies interspersed, students develop both physical intuition for how solids and fluids behave, and the mathematical techniques needed to begin to describe
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exhibition Copyright © 200, American Society for Engineering Education
Rossmann, J. S., & Dym, C. (2004, June), Continuum Mechanics As The First Mechanics Course Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13343
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