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Development Of An Interactive Shape Memory Alloy Demonstration For Smart Materials Curricula

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Hands-on Materials Science and Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.525.1 - 12.525.10



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Paper Authors


Gangbing Song University of Houston

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Gangbing Song is an Associate Professor in the the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston and Director of the Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory.

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Richard Bannerot University of Houston

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Richard Bannerot is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas.

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

Development of an Interactive Shape Memory Alloy Demonstration for Smart Materials Curricula


This paper presents the development, operation, and evaluation of an interactive Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) demonstration. The hands-on device was developed to introduce Shape Memory Alloys to anyone but especially to students in middle school and above. The device is designed to demonstrate the basic operations of an SMA and its common applications. The device features two independent processes with their own associated control buttons and dials, housed in a clear acrylic display case for easy visualization. The display features 1) an SMA wire weight-lifter to demonstrate the magnitude of the force exerted by the SMA wire and 2) an SMA wire actuated flexible-limb. The device is fully autonomous and has been used at the University of Houston as a teaching tool and as an outreach demonstration. Through student evaluations, the demonstration has been shown to be an effective tool in assisting students to learn about SMA.


Smart materials and structures, cited by Scientific American4 as one of the “key technologies for the 21st Century,” is an emerging and important class of materials that gains little exposure to undergraduate engineering students in current engineering curricula10. Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) is an important class of smart materials that has been actively researched for their mechanical actuation and control of dynamic systems.

In recent years innovative implementations of SMA include: bio-medical devices, including artificial organs, 5,6,8 vibration control of structures, 7 and actuation of dynamic systems. 11 In the future, there will be a growing need and demand for technologies utilizing the unique characteristics of SMA. To respond to this future need, there is an immediate need to integrate smart materials and structures into engineering curricula. To help meet this need a new course, “Intelligent Structural Systems”, has been implemented at the University of Houston covering the basics of smart materials and the design and control of smart structural systems integrating various smart materials, including Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluids, piezoceramics, SMAs, and fiber optics.

It has been shown that a significant portion of students are visual, sensing, and active learners who are at a disadvantage when taking traditional engineering lecture courses that do not allow them to experience the technology and concepts being taught in class1,2,3. It is necessary for them to touch, feel, and see examples before they can fully understand and process the course concepts. To assist in the teaching of smart materials and to expose SMA to a wider, STEM based student body, a series of demonstrations and experiments have been developed either

Song, G., & Bannerot, R. (2007, June), Development Of An Interactive Shape Memory Alloy Demonstration For Smart Materials Curricula Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2022

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