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Incorporating Experimental Design In A Mechanics Of Materials Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.654.1 - 7.654.15



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Paper Authors

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Wendy Reffeor

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Jeffrey Ray

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Session 1566

Incorporating Experimental Design in a Mechanics of Materials Course

Wendy Reffeor, Ph.D., Jeffrey L. Ray, Ph.D. Seymour and Esther Padnos School of Engineering Grand Valley State University Grand Rapids, MI 49504


A necessary part of any engineering design is the development of specifications that define its function. Once these specifications are developed, testing of that design to ensure it meets the design specifications is essential. At Grand Valley State University, we have incorporated design and build projects into most of our engineering courses, including the Mechanics of Material Course. In addition to design and build, in the Mechanics of Materials course, students are required to develop their own design specifications and design an experiment to test their apparatus.

Students were presented with the challenge of creating a combined loading apparatus which models a real situation or to test a real product to determine the stresses incurred by that product in normal use. Strain rosettes were used to evaluate the stresses experimentally. Students determined the criterion by which the apparatus was tested and designed. They were then required to perform the testing. Prior to applying the strain gage and testing their apparatus, they also submitted a complete testing procedure and theoretical analysis for review. Next, a comparison of the test results to results obtained using analytical techniques and finite element analysis was made.

In the process of completing this project, students learned many aspects of experimental design and stress analysis including developing testing criteria, implementation of strain gages for testing designs, correlation of theoretical and experimental results, and how to design an experiment and collect the experimental data so that it is most useful.


The "Program Outcomes and Assessment"1 section of the ABET evaluation criteria for 2001- 2002 strongly encourage both the teaching of design and design of experiments in the curriculum. This work addresses several of the ABET program objectives, specifically a, b, c, e and g. The objectives met include:

(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering . . . (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data . . . (c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs . . .

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Reffeor, W., & Ray, J. (2002, June), Incorporating Experimental Design In A Mechanics Of Materials Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10262

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