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Integrating Matlab Graphical User Interface In Statics Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

What's New in Statics?

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.788.1 - 11.788.12



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Paper Authors

author page

Nidal Al-Masoud Central Connecticut State University

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



In this paper a Graphical User Interface (GUI) platform to supplement teaching and learning in Engineering Mechanics–Statics course is developed. The package encompasses several interrelated modules of the concepts introduced in a typical Statics class. The GUI provides a user-friendly interactive approach to solving problems and displaying the results both numerically and graphically in two- and three-dimensional spaces. In addition to visualization, GUI approach allows users to modify input data and observe the effect on the solution, thus providing students with additional insight to predict the behavior of structures under different loading scenarios.


Statics is a branch of mechanics which deals with the study of forces on objects at rest. It is a core course and the foundation for many subsequent courses in mechanical and civil engineering curriculum such as strength of materials, dynamics, fluid mechanics, machine design and structural design courses. This group of courses forms the basis of engineering design and practice. In many engineering courses, students have difficulty visualizing some of the theoretical concepts presented. especially in the real-world 3-dimensional problems. Due to a variety of reasons, students usually have difficulty in solving this class of problems.

Another observation from the numerous times I taught this course is that students tend to be mainly focused on arriving at the final numerical solution paying no or little attention to think on the influence and the significance of each force on the structure. For example, the influence of the angle of application of the force on the magnitude of the moment, and how it varies to reach a maximum when the angle sine is at its largest value.

A third observation is the weakness in algebraic manipulation abilities. After setting up the equilibrium equations, many students spend a great deal of time working on the algebraic manipulation rather trying to solve them. Their objective is usually to match the right answer. They often leave them unsolved or use the back substitution of the answers at the end of the text. Naturally, this will let them loose focus on understanding the subject matter and defies the purpose of learning something new. Although it is essential to get the right answer, however, we should usually expect more than that. Integrating the GUIs with the course couples both graphical and analytical approaches to solving problems and adds a variety of ways to reach students of different learning styles and analytical abilities.

In practice, the loading may change in magnitude and direction due to some functional or operational requirements, and unexpected loading condition. Therefore, students should be able to answer the “what if?” question, which will broaden their horizons and instill an inquisitive

Al-Masoud, N. (2006, June), Integrating Matlab Graphical User Interface In Statics Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--439

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