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Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Mechanics Of Materials

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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

Improving Mechanics of Materials Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.719.1 - 7.719.15



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Paper Authors

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Richard Hall

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Nancy Hubing

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David Oglesby

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Vikas Yellamraju

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Ralph Flori

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Timothy Philpot

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

Main Menu Session 2468

Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Mechanics of Materials

Timothy A. Philpot, David B. Oglesby, Ralph E. Flori, Vikas Yellamraju, Nancy Hubing, Richard H. Hall

University of Missouri-Rolla


Computer-based instructional materials offer great potential for engineering education. A challenge that must be addressed in the successful use of this medium, however, is overcoming the students’ tendency toward passively receiving the instruction. Particularly in the impersonal domain of a student interacting with a computer, instructional materials must seek to actively engage students in the learning process. Well-designed software may engage students overtly – for example, requiring responses to questions, entering the results of calculations, or prompting for decisions – or indirectly in ways that are more intuitive such as the revealed insight of an expertly executed animation sequence. This paper presents examples of interactive learning tools being developed for the mechanics of materials course. These learning tools feature animations, graphics, and interactivity designed to engage and stimulate students, to effectively explain and illustrate course topics, and to build student problem- solving skills. Student reactions to these learning tools as well as observed changes in student performance are discussed.

I. Introduction

The mechanics of materials course is one of the core courses for students in civil, mechanical, aerospace, metallurgical, ceramic, geotechnical, and architectural engineering programs. The course is also included in architecture, engineering mechanics, engineering physics, engineering management, and engineering technology curricula. The course is typically taken during the sophomore or junior years after students complete their general mathematics and science preparation. The mechanics of materials course introduces students to the principles involved in designing typical components found in machines and structures such as drive shafts; floor beams, pressure tanks, and bolted connections. The course explores various common structural components, teaching students how to analyze the effects of forces and loads on the internal stresses and deformations in the components.

While these components are three-dimensional objects, students are generally taught about these objects through static, two-dimensional illustrations in textbooks and on the classroom board. As educators, we have an understanding of the components and processes that constitute our discipline…we can visualize these things in our mind’s eye. One of the initial challenges we face is conveying our visual understanding to our students. Once this foundation is laid, we can proceed to establish an understanding of the relevant theory and to develop the problem-solving skills needed to become proficient in specific topic areas.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Hall, R., & Hubing, N., & Oglesby, D., & Yellamraju, V., & Flori, R., & Philpot, T. (2002, June), Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Mechanics Of Materials Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10366

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