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Designing A Mechanical Breadboard For Effective Teaching Of Engineering Statics

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovations in Learning by Doing

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.389.1 - 9.389.12

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Paper Authors

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Doanh Van

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

Session 3668

Designing a Mechanical Breadboard for Effective Teaching of Engineering Statics.

Doanh Van, PhD., PE., CEM Associate Professor and Chair of Engineering Union University

David Ward, PhD. Professor of Physics Union University

Denise Theobald Roberts, PhD. Engineering Consultant


Teaching engineering statics is challenging in that the concepts of moment, reactive forces, behavior of different supports, trusses, etc. are abstract and difficult to be appreciated. This is true in 2-dimensional settings and especially true in a 3-dimensional environment. Electronic breadboards have been available for quite some time. They aid significantly in the study of electronics in that professors and students of electrical and electronic circuitry can quickly set up the problem under consideration, see the circuits, feel the flow path and observe the responses for different analyses.

This paper suggests and showcases a design of a mechanical breadboard to aid the teaching and learning of Engineering Statics. The authors are mindful of the many software and excellent virtual simulations1,2,3,4,5 currently available on the Internet (many in public domains.) However, they all lack one or two important elements. They do not provide the human touch or they are not suitable for regular classroom use, which we found to be absolutely essential for the study of this category of engineering mechanics. Nothing is available to the instructors either to allow for quick demonstration during a lecture. While it is widely recognized that traditional instructional methods of lecturing and problem solving of engineering physics and mechanics are not effective, it is also agreed among educators in this field that the students will be better-served with the use of curricula and methods that are activity-based in an interactive learning environment6.

Active learning is being promoted vigorously at Union University as the pedagogy that best promotes learning. To fill that requirement and the need to “make easy” the study of a traditionally difficult subject of statics, a mechanical breadboard is envisioned. It shall meet the

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering

Van, D. (2004, June), Designing A Mechanical Breadboard For Effective Teaching Of Engineering Statics Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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