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Integrating a 3-D Printer and a Truss Optimization Project in Statics

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Proven Strategies in Classroom Engagement Part I: Artifacts for Creative Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Nicholas Andres Brake Lamar University Orcid 16x16

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Nicholas Brake is currently an Assistant Professor in the civil and environmental department at Lamar University. He received his B.S. (2005), M.S. (2008), and Ph.D. (2012) from Michigan State University. His area of expertise is in cementitious composites which includes: fracture and fatigue mechanics of quasi-brittle materials, recycled concrete, conductive concrete, reinforced concrete, pervious concrete, geopolymer, and structural dynamics. He currently teaches a wide array of courses that includes statics, reinforced concrete design, structural analysis, and materials engineering. Dr. Brake actively integrates project based and peer assisted learning pedagogies into his curriculum.

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Fatih Alperen Adam

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There is a need to integrate hands-on engineering analysis and design problems and exciting build technology in lower division engineering courses to stimulate interest and increase students’ capacity to solve divergent, open-ended based problems. In this evidence-based practice paper, we discuss the development, execution, and impact of a truss optimization project given to students in Statics. The students were required to optimize two different polyactic acid (PLA) 3D printed trusses using compression and tensile mechanical strength properties. The students were required to provide the optimal tension and compression member cross-section to be 3D printed, provide a three-dimensional drawing using a user-friendly open source CAD software, and provide a summary of the results in a poster presentation. The optimal truss design was then printed, assembled, and tested in the classroom and the results were compared to the engineering design solutions. Students perception of their ability to interpret and analyze data, organize presentations, solve engineering problems, tinker, engineer, and design was assessed using a 21 item online survey. The survey items were taken from both validated instruments and the ABET Criteria 3 course outcomes: a, b, and e. Survey data was collected from the test population (students given the project) and compared to a control population (students not given the project) to assess the impact of the project on engineering self-efficacy. The results indicate there is a statistically significant gain in student engineering skills self-efficacy, student perception of their ability to analyze and interpret data, ability to solve engineering problems, and organize a presentation.

Brake, N. A., & Adam, F. A. (2016, June), Integrating a 3-D Printer and a Truss Optimization Project in Statics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25776

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