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Introductory steel design courses focus on the analysis and design of primary members, which typically include tension members and connections, compression members, flexural members, and beam-columns. Introducing structural steel design concepts to students presents its fair share of challenges. First, it is difficult for students to visualize and accurately predict the potential failure modes of a tension member: yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear. Second, it is also difficult for students to visualize the buckling modes of steel columns, which vary with shape and type of bracing. Students particularly struggle with the determination of buckling modes between strong and weak axes based on effective lengths. Third, flexural failure modes of steel beams are very difficult for students to visualize and understand when each mode controls. The failure modes are complex and fall into three categories for compact shapes: yielding of the cross section, inelastic lateral torsional buckling, and elastic lateral torsional buckling, which is dependent on the unbraced length of the compression flange. Non-compact sections also include local buckling of the flange or web, but identifying the relationship between the unbraced length and beam span and how the unbraced length affects the flexural capacity tends to be the most difficult concept for students to grasp.
This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of three large-scale experiential learning modules for an undergraduate steel design course. The first module focuses on the tension connections by providing physical models of various failure types including yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear; the second module focuses on the capacity of columns with different amounts of lateral bracing about the weak axis; and the third module focuses on the flexural strength of a beam with different unbraced lengths to illustrate the difference between lateral torsional buckling and flange local buckling/yielding of the gross section. The three modules were used throughout the steel design course at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to illustrate the failure mechanisms associated with the design of steel structures.
Carroll, J., & Aidoo, J., & Derks, A., & Lovell, M., & Kershaw, K. (2022, August), Design and Implementation of Experiential Learning Modules for Steel Design Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41662
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