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Hands On Statics Integration Into An Engineering Mechanics Statics Course: Development And Scaling

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.285.1 - 4.285.7

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Paper Authors

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John C. Duke

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Jack Lesko

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Flynn L. Auchey

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Siegfried M. Holzer

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

Session 1368

Hands-on-Statics Integration into an Engineering Mechanics- Statics Course: Development and Scaling

Jack LeskoA, Jack DukeA, Seigfried HolzerB, Flynn AucheyC A Department of Engineering Science & Mechanics B Via Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering C Department of Building Construction Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Virginia 24061


Trial efforts to incorporate hands on learning experiences into the engineering mechanics-statics course have been developed and scaled in an effort to bring these experiences to all sections of engineering Statics taught at Virginia Tech. During the fall of 1997 a set of experiments were developed to assist in the comprehension of mechanics of statics principles by providing concrete experiences. Hands-on-exercises were developed to support the concepts of force components, vectors, free body diagrams, moments, two and multi-force members, plane trusses, frames and machines, and internal forces and moments in beams.


“Engineering is a fundamental human process” 1. One has only to watch a child conceive a solution to reaching a treat initially placed out of reach to support Petroski’s claim (e.g. a cookie on a table too high for the child). We all know that eventually the child will seek a chair or stool and climb to retrieve the cookie. Although this is a crude demonstration of engineering in the formal sense, it does meet with the goal of engineering.

In a more conventional sense, the discipline of engineering represents a well-defined community and has been formalized through design principles based on physical laws. It is engineering education that helps to define this community and the body of knowledge that allows one to engineer from a basis of credibility. Yet the skills and perspective of the engineer are not that far removed from the skilled craftspersons who created machines and devices through out history. While their ability to conceive and create is innate, their proficiency comes from other sources in the absence of formal training. Where then did the skilled craftsperson find the basis to create and build? One can certainly identify the process of apprenticeship process in this regard. Here the individual is trained by doing. Experiences shape the “education” of the individual and practice forms the basis though which skills are transferred and a community defined.

Thus, it is our claim that though the process of tangible and physical experiences, the

Duke, J. C., & Lesko, J., & Auchey, F. L., & Holzer, S. M. (1999, June), Hands On Statics Integration Into An Engineering Mechanics Statics Course: Development And Scaling Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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