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Enhancing Students' Understanding Of Structural Behavior Using Small Scale Models

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.455.1 - 6.455.8



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Abi Aghayere

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

Session 3150

Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Structural Behavior Using Small Scale Models

Abi Aghayere Rochester Institute of Technology


This paper describes the use of a computer-aided structural laboratory (the ANEX lab) in a structural analysis class to give students a hands-on method of developing a better understanding of structural behavior by observing the actual deflected shapes of a small scale model structure under load.

The ANEX1 lab, developed at the University of Missouri-Rolla, is a computer-aided structural laboratory that includes a structural analysis module using M-STRUDL, and a computer-aided experiment module. The models can be made of either aluminum or plastic, and rigid and pinned connections can be modeled. Horizontal and vertical displacements are measured using linear variable displacement transducers (LVDTs).

In the structural analysis class, students were instructed to form groups of 3 or 4 students to work on a quarter-long ANEX lab project that involved a two-story, two-bay frame made of plastic. The frame was subjected to various vertical load combinations. For each load combination, each team was required to compare and discuss the analytical and experimental displacements and draw the actual observed deflected shapes of the frame indicating the tension and compression sides of each member at the joints and at the mid-lengths of the members. Students were required to note any experimental observations and difficulties encountered, and also to submit a mid- quarter progress report.

1. Introduction

Civil Engineering Technology students need to develop the ability to visualize structural behavior but this skill cannot be acquired solely through the theoretical concepts that are taught in the classroom. These students need hands-on structural analysis experiments to complement and reinforce the theoretical concepts that are taught in class. To achieve this goal at minimal cost, several structural analysis mini-labs1,2 have been developed. In this paper, the use of one such mini-lab -the ANEX lab1- is described and the students’ feed back is discussed.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Aghayere, A. (2001, June), Enhancing Students' Understanding Of Structural Behavior Using Small Scale Models Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9219

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