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Improving Transitions Between Sophomore Dynamics and Junior Dynamic Systems Courses

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Programming, Simulation, and Dynamic Modeling

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.725.1 - 24.725.10



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Paper Authors


Mark David Bedillion South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mark Bedillion joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in January 2011 as an Associate Professor. Dr. Bedillion received the B.S. degree in 1998, the M.S. in 2001, and the Ph.D. degree in 2005, all from the Mechanical Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining SDSM&T, Dr. Bedillion had an eight year career in the hard disk drive industry working on advanced data storage concepts. Dr. Bedillion’s research interests include distributed manipulation systems, robotics, control for data storage systems, control for advanced manufacturing systems, and STEM education.

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Raymond Jon Raisanen South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


Mohamed Hakeem Mohamed Nizar SDSM&T Mechanical Engineering

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I am an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. I am originally from Sri Lanka and I am here as a transfer student to complete my degree. My interests and goals are to work in design, manufacturing, or maintenance filed. Recently I have been working on SolidWorks motion analysis, and designing virtual models of dynamic systems using VRML and Simulink.

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Improving Transitions Between Sophomore Dynamics and Junior Dynamic Systems CoursesStudents at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology consider both sophomoredynamics and junior dynamic systems courses “hard”, with both courses routinely havingrelatively high failure / dropout rates. Sophomore-level dynamics tends to cast problems ofmotion as snapshots rather than the continuous evolution of junior-level courses. This paperdescribes two course modifications to sophomore dynamics to improve visualization skills and toimprove knowledge transfer from sophomore to junior courses.The first course modification involves the use of SolidWorks motion simulations to visualize themotion of example problems taught throughout the course. The motion visualization confirmsstudents’ intuition for simple problems and helps to develop it for interconnected rigid bodymotion. It also serves two other purposes: it provides software continuity in the curriculum andprepares students for the continuous nature of junior dynamic systems. This paper discusses twosemesters of implementation; in one, usage was optional, while in the other it was given extracredit. Evaluation was performed using both the Dynamics Concept Inventory and studentsurveys.The second course modification was the introduction of Lagrange’s equations of motion forconservative systems. This formulation of dynamics is typically reserved for courses in which itcan be derived, which students encounter in their senior years at the earliest. However, whiledifficult to derive, Lagrange’s equations are easy to use for conservative systems, even forsophomore students. They perform the functions of uniting energy methods with Newton’ssecond law and introduce students to the concept of equations of motion that will be usedconsistently in junior dynamic systems. Example problems for several projects are presentedalong with student feedback.

Bedillion, M. D., & Raisanen, R. J., & Mohamed Nizar, M. H. (2014, June), Improving Transitions Between Sophomore Dynamics and Junior Dynamic Systems Courses Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20617

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