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Integrated Dynamics And Statics For First Semester Sophomores In Mechanical Engineering

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Teaching Dynamics

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.757.1 - 15.757.23



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Paper Authors


Sherrill Biggers Clemson University

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Sherrill B. Biggers is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. He has over 29 years of experience in teaching engineering mechanics, including statics, dynamics, and strength of materials at two universities. His technical research is in the computational mechanics and optimal design of advanced composite structures. He developed advanced structural mechanics design methods in the aerospace industry for over 10 years. Recently he has also contributed to research being conducted in engineering education. He received teaching awards at Clemson and the University of Kentucky. He has been active in curriculum and course development over the past 20 years. He received his BS in Civil Engineering from NC State University and his MS and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Duke University.

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Marisa Orr Clemson University Orcid 16x16

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Marisa K. Orr is a doctoral candidate in the Mechanical Engineering program at Clemson University. She is a research assistant in the Department of Engineering and Science Education and is a member of the inaugural class of the Engineering and Science Education Certificate at Clemson University. As an Endowed Teaching Fellow, she received the Departmental Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for teaching Integrated Statics and Dynamics for Mechanical Engineers. Her research involves analysis of the effects of student-centered active learning in sophomore engineering courses, and investigation of the career motivations of women and men as they relate to engineering.

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

Integrated Dynamics and Statics for First Semester Sophomores in Mechanical Engineering


A modified SCALE-UP approach that emphasizes active learning, guided inquiry, and student responsibility has been described as applied to an innovative and challenging sophomore course that integrates Dynamics and Statics. Details regarding implementation of this course are the focus of this paper. Challenges to achieving success in this new course have been many and demanding. These include (1) development of a dedicated textbook, (2) development of learning exercises to foster student comprehension, (3) reorganization of topical content including topic deletion and added emphasis on certain topics, (4) preparing faculty for change, (5) accommodating limited student maturity, and (6) dealing with widespread misgivings about the project. Some previously presented data are shown to indicate that the new approach and new course have been effective in terms of improved student performance on a required follow-on course, reduced time to completion and increased rate of completion, and slight improvements in concept comprehension.


During a total revision of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum at Clemson University five years ago, the need to bolster our students’ abilities in dynamics and to do so at an earlier stage was recognized. This led us to consider integrating Dynamics and Statics into a single 5-credit course that would be offered in the first semester of the sophomore year, replacing the conventional Statics course taught then and the conventional Dynamics course taught the following semester. Despite widespread and vocal reservations, we are now in our fourth year of offering this integrated course and we are convinced that the decision to move in this direction was a good one. There are a few other universities that offer combined statics and dynamics courses, as 4-credit or 5-credit courses. However most of these teach the subject in a serial manner, starting with statics and progressing to dynamics. There are a few that, like ours, integrate statics into dynamics but cover only statics and particle dynamics. Some of these require a course in particle dynamics as a prerequisite and present the course over two semesters. We believe that our course is unique in its integrated nature and its focus on rigid body dynamics as a final objective.

Our previous publications1-5 on the adaptation of SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs6-8) methods in engineering and math have presented data showing the integrated course has been effective in terms of improved preparation of students for follow-on courses, reduced time to completion of the material, and concept comprehension, all compared to the pair of courses previously taught in a serial manner. This paper focuses on the implementation of the integrated course while summarizing some evidence of its effectiveness in terms of learning outcomes and placement in the curriculum. It details how major challenges to implementation were overcome. These challenges include: ≠ Finding or creating a textbook that treats the subjects as truly integrated as opposed to binding serially arranged statics and dynamics volumes in a single book.

Biggers, S., & Orr, M. (2010, June), Integrated Dynamics And Statics For First Semester Sophomores In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16163

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