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Development of Low-Cost, Hands-On Lab Experiments for an Online Mechanics of Materials Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Statics & Strength of Materials - A nice couple

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.433.1 - 23.433.12



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Paper Authors


Jamie Douglas University of Wisconsin Colleges

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Jamie Douglas is an Assistant Professor with the University of Wisconsin Colleges Online and at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley. She completed a bachelor’s in civil/environmental engineering from the University of Illinois (UIUC) in 1998 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2007. She currently lives in Appleton, WI with her husband and two children.

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Mark H Holdhusen University of Wisconsin, Marathon County

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Mark Holdhusen is an Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon County. He began at UWMC in Jan. 2005 after completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Holdhusen received a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota in August of 1999. He currently lives in Wausau, Wis., with his wife (Elona), son (Milo), and daughter (Odelia).

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Development of Low-Cost, Hands-On Lab Experiments for an Online Mechanics of Materials CourseOnline education has expanded quickly in recent years and offering an engineering curriculumonline has been limited by the ability to replicate lab experiments that are integral to somecourses. Some approaches to lab experiments in distance education or online courses have beenattempted including recording video of lab experiments or creating simulations of laboratoryexperiments that run virtually via the internet. This paper outlines the development of a set ofinexpensive, transportable lab experiments for students in a mechanics of materials courseoffered via distance education. The set of labs were developed to allow for hands-on learningwith a kit of supplies and a list of experiments that students could perform at home using readilyavailable materials. The labs were developed using materials that had properties whichmimicked the behavior of traditional materials like steel or aluminum, but exhibited thosebehaviors at much lower applied loads and stresses. Most labs allowed for actual data to betaken and analyzed while a few labs demonstrated the concept qualitatively. These labs wereinitially integrated into an existing Mechanics of Materials course offered via audiographics andwill be offered in conjunction with an online course in a coming semester. A pretest and posttestwere given to determine how comfortable students were with laboratory concepts before andafter the course. In addition, and a short questionnaire was administered after each lab to getfeedback from students about the implementation of the lab and its helpfulness in understandingmechanics of materials topics.

Douglas, J., & Holdhusen, M. H. (2013, June), Development of Low-Cost, Hands-On Lab Experiments for an Online Mechanics of Materials Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19447

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