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Dynamics As A Process, Helping Undergraduates Understand Design And Analysis Of Dynamic Systems

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.158.1 - 2.158.6



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Paper Authors

author page

Louis Everett

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

Session 2666


Louis J. Everett, Mechanical Engineering Texas A&M University College Station, Texas 77843 LEverett@Tamu.Edu


Although the first course in Engineering Dynamics often occurs early in the undergraduate career and most faculty call the material fundamental, it is neither easy to teach nor to learn. This paper proposes what might be a better method of teaching Dynamics. For the reader who teaches undergraduate Dynamics, this paper will provide detail about how to teach the class. For other readers, the contribution is to suggest, and demonstrate with results from one class experiment, that Engineering Analysis can be taught effectively by concentrating on process.

The essence of the method is to teach Dynamics as a problem-solving process. By teaching process rather than facts, students build links between equations and Engineering. Students develop an understanding of why things act as they do, why assumptions are made and when they are valid. This understanding allows them to handle more general problems without having specific examples to mimic.

This paper outlines a Dynamics class that accomplishes the following: 1. Addresses a student's mistaken intuition by confronting these mistakes and reasoning why the error was made. 2. Provides the student with a process for real-world problems. Here, real-world is defined as problems in which assumptions have to be made, tested and solutions verified. 3. Provides the student with design rules and the clear distinction between these rules and rigorous analysis.

The class has been taught once and results show that students can learn to work tough dynamics problems. Students perform exam problems “unlike” homework demonstrating they have understood concepts and principles. Results in follow on classes are inconclusive at the present time, but suggests the knowledge is retained better.


The author's experience has shown that even graduate students with an excellent undergraduate record from top schools can be operationally ignorant when dealing with out-of-the-ordinary dynamics problems. The students have several conceptual problems when they attempt to define


Everett, L. (1997, June), Dynamics As A Process, Helping Undergraduates Understand Design And Analysis Of Dynamic Systems Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6523

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