Asee peer logo

Design And Test Project In A Statics Course

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.141.1 - 1.141.3



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Dr. Martin Pike

Download Paper |

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

Session 1268

Design and Test Project in a Statics Course

Dr. Martin Pike Purdue University Programs at Kokomo


The design experience is very important in all technical areas. Recent trends have pushed design experiences as early in the curriculum as possible. Often, the first design experiences are a single pass “paper” design without any realistic testing and design evaluation. This paper relates the experience of incorporating a designhildhestiredesign project into a Statics course. This is the first course in the Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Technology program where students are being exposed to the design experience. The goal of the project was to expose the students to the full design cycle and to verify that the analysis methods learned in class really do predict the structure’s behavior. The project was a group effort to design and build a truss structure given exterior dimension constraints, load point constraints and a provided pack of materials. The student groups were to design the truss to maximize a score determined mainly as a function of the load to failure divided by the structure’s weight. On a prearranged date, all trusses were loaded to failure in a tensile test machine. Afterwards, the class as a whole discussed the merits and shortcomings of each of the designs tested, how and why they failed as they did, and how a better tress might be built. This paper relates the particulars of the project definition, how the project was managed, success of the design project in meeting the goals, and students’ reactions to the project.


The design experience is very important in the engineering and technology fields. To maximize the exposure to the design experience, the curriculum has been altered to introduce design as early as possible at many schools. At Purdue University in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) curriculum, the statics course offered in the second semester of the freshman year is the first feasible course that mechanical design can be introduced. For three semesters a design project has been assigned as part of this course at the Kokomo regional campus as one way to expose the students to design. The project requires the students to apply basic statics concepts to design, build and test a truss structure that meets given criteria of size and available materials. The project was designed to be a practical build, test project, and redesign project and not only a “paper design” for three reasons. First, without the testing aspect of the project the idea of redesign or design alteration to take into account testing results would be meaningless. This, to the author, is an important part of the design process since very few designs are successful in the first iteration. Second, in the testing process the students should gain a better understanding of statics and find out that the calculations really do predict the behavior of the structure. Last, with a build and test component, the students in the MET program were more interested in doing a good job resulting in a moderately competitive atmosphere among the design groups.

$iii$’ 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings } ‘JJilH..’ .

Pike, D. M. (1996, June), Design And Test Project In A Statics Course Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5964

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015