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Full Body Contact Statics And Other Freshman Engineering Experiences

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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

6.515.1 - 6.515.7

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Paper Authors

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Lars Cederqvist

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Jed Lyons

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

Session 1566

Full-Body Contact Statics and Other Freshman Engineering Experiences Jed S. Lyons, Lars Cederqvist University of South Carolina


Hundreds of papers presented at ASEE meetings have described introduction to engineering courses and projects. This paper provides actual instructional materials for three inexpensive active-learning activities that can be performed by first-semester freshmen to introduce them to engineering and motivate them to learn a suite of computer applications. Two of them are in-class laboratory experiments that provide data to analyze with MathCAD or Excel. The third activity is a team design project that is best performed around Halloween. Student feedback indicates that these simple hands-on activities effectively introduce students to fundamental engineering concepts.


The Introduction to Engineering course at the University of South Carolina includes the learning outcomes that the students: demonstrate knowledge of engineering; demonstrate the ability to use a suite of computer applications; and function on a team to complete a freshman design experience. An active-learning approach has been taken to develop these outcomes.

“Full-Body Contact Statics” is an in-class laboratory experiment. The students apply static loads to a simply supported wooden beam by standing on it. Support reactions are measured with bathroom scales and beam deflections are measured with a ruler. By varying the amount and location of the applied loads, the students can perform a number of experiments. After lab, the students are presented with the appropriate theory and use MathCAD to compare the theoretical and experimental results. “Head Pressure” is an in-class experiment that demonstrates the fluid mechanics principles of conservation of mass flow rate and the Bernoulli equation. This lab uses a 5 foot-tall clear Plexiglas tube that is sealed and stood on one end and filled with water by a hose at the other end. Holes drilled along the height of the tube allow water to flow out. By varying the number of unplugged holes and the height of the water column, a number of experiments can be preformed. After lab, the students are presented with the appropriate theory and use MS Excel to compare the theoretical and experimental results.

“Save the Pumpkins” is a freshman team design project performed around Halloween. Each team designs and builds an enclosure or apparatus to protect a pumpkin from damage when dropped from the 3rd story of the engineering building. The designs are evaluated (sometimes destructively) during a class period. The project grade is based primarily on the contents and appearance of a final project report, which the students must prepare with MS Word.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Cederqvist, L., & Lyons, J. (2001, June), Full Body Contact Statics And Other Freshman Engineering Experiences Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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