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Experimental Exploration of Common Modeling Assumptions

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Structural Education Applications in Architectural Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.682.1 - 22.682.9



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Paper Authors


Cole C. McDaniel California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Cole C. McDaniel, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor, Architectural Engineering Department
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Graham C. Archer California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


Blake A. Roskelley CYS Structural Engineers, Inc.

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BS Architectural Engineering, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,
MS Architecture - Specialization in Architectural Engineering, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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Experimental Exploration of Common Modeling AssumptionsThe goal of this research is to expose undergraduate engineering students to the effectof their computational modeling decisions on the resulting predicted dynamic behaviorof structural systems. This work is part of an ongoing effort to create a series of full-scale, low-cost experimental exercises aimed at improving student learning ofMechanical Vibrations. This particular exercise focuses on the common assumptionthat building floor and roof diaphragms are rigid. An assessment of the buildingdiaphragm rigidity was performed by the students using Forced Vibration Testing ofthree campus buildings. In this classroom experiment, the students determined thenatural frequencies and mode shapes of the buildings. In current building codes,diaphragms with aspect ratios less than three are permitted to be idealized as rigid. Allthree buildings tested fall within this boundary. However, the students determined thattwo of the three buildings’ diaphragms exhibited semi-flexible behavior. The studentsalso created detailed computational models which confirmed the experimental results.The predicted design forces and roof deflections for each building were higher whenmodeled with semi-rigid diaphragms. Consequently, the students learned that idealizinga building diaphragm as rigid based solely on its aspect ratio may result in anunconservative building design. 

McDaniel, C. C., & Archer, G. C., & Roskelley, B. A. (2011, June), Experimental Exploration of Common Modeling Assumptions Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17963

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