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Did You Ever Wonder If Anything Could Make Dynamics Fun?

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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

Innovative Mechanics Education Programs and Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.541.1 - 12.541.12



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Paper Authors

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James Morgan Texas A&M University

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Luciana Barroso Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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

Did You Ever Wonder If Anything Could Make Dynamics Fun Introduction

The civil engineering department at our university has adopted a course in Dynamics & Vibrations as the standard introductory undergraduate dynamics course. The course emphasizes model development and the use of general kinematic equations and differential equations of motion for problem solving. In addition, the course includes the demonstration of physical models; the use of simulation; team based projects & incorporates civil engineering examples and real-world applications with much more emphasis on vibration than in a traditional dynamics course.

The increased emphasis on the vibration material keeps our civil engineering students more engaged in the course. There is an initial resistance to learning the material when all students see are box-spring examples when first going through the derivation of the equation of motion for single degree of freedom systems. Instead of starting with the simplified model, a one-story building is presented to the class and the first step in solving the problem is the development of the analytical model for the system. This also serves to connect the concepts of the dynamics course with other courses in the curriculum.

Course projects are based on realistic civil engineering examples, with an emphasis on the assumptions required to develop the analytical model. The projects are team assignments and rely on numerical analysis, a pre-requisite for the course. These projects have several objectives: (1) to allow students to tackle a larger and more realistic civil engineering dynamics problem, (2) expose students to computational tools used in solving dynamics problems for which a closed form solution does not exist, (3) evaluate critical thinking and communication skills. The projects also allow for the introduction to advanced engineering concepts, such as seismic response.

This paper presents the implementation of this course for all civil engineering undergraduate students. Course content and structure, materials (including projects); student acceptance and performance; and course assessment and evaluation are addressed in the paper.

Course Overview Development and Current Content: Addressing Civil Engineering Needs The dynamics/systems sequence for undergraduate engineers has traditionally started with separate statics and dynamics courses. Texts for the introductory dynamics courses “customarily downplay the pervasive nature of differential equations as dynamics natural language”3. The original concept and course was developed to: (i) incorporate team learning, and (ii) teach from a general conservation-principles concepts towards specific examples. Much of the remaining gain comes from the guidelines which were established for developing this dynamics and vibrations course: (i) Prerequisites include both statics, numerical methods, and differential equations; (ii) The course would cover dynamics of particles, rigid bodies (planar motion only), and 2DOF vibration; and

Morgan, J., & Barroso, L. (2007, June), Did You Ever Wonder If Anything Could Make Dynamics Fun? Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3058

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