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Integration of Modal Test Results of a Composite Wing into the Introductory Aerospace Vibrations Course

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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

Solid and Structural Mechanics in Aerospace Engineering

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Paper Authors


Rani W. Sullivan Mississippi State University

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Dr. Rani Warsi Sullivan is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Sullivan has teaching and research interests in the area of solid mechanics, aircraft materials and structures, and engineering education. Current research includes fiber optic strain sensing for development of an in-flight structural health monitoring system, characterization of the time-dependent deformation of polymer nanocomposites, and strength and vibration testing of full scale composite air vehicles.

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Often students do not see the relevance of concepts and methods that are taught in introductory mechanics classes. For many students, their academics are a blur of equations and theory. To improve students’ engagement and retention of concepts, a real-world problem was introduced in the undergraduate vibrations course, which is a required course for all aerospace engineering students at Mississippi State University. The course centered on an overarching, interesting, and realistic problem that was motivated by the author’s research in determining the modal characteristics of a full-scale composite aircraft wing; thus, measured vibration data and characteristics were available for comparison with results from students’ analyses. During the semester, as concepts relevant to the problem were covered, students determined the first natural frequency of the complex wing using different models. In this way, concepts were reinforced and students became familiar with mathematical models that were representative of the physical models of the actual structure. This paper reports on the design and development of this activity by presenting details of the spring-mass system and a beam model with different loadings that were used to determine the first natural frequency of the wing structure. By integrating research results into the classroom, many engineering mechanics and mechanical vibration concepts can be reinforced by (a) analyzing a “real-world” problem through simple mechanical models to simulate a complex structure and (b) by highlighting the relationships between physical and mathematical models of an actual aerospace structure.

Sullivan, R. W. (2016, June), Integration of Modal Test Results of a Composite Wing into the Introductory Aerospace Vibrations Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25430

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