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Linking Mechanics And Materials In Structural Design: A Generalized Design Template And Its Application

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.692.1 - 6.692.11

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Paper Authors

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Sanjeev Khanna

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Chris Jenkins

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

Session 2525

Linking Mechanics and Materials in Structural Design: A Generalized Design Template and its Application C. H. Jenkins, S. K. Khanna Mechanical Engineering Department South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City, SD 57701 USA


Engineering education follows much of what we do in engineering practice itself, for better or worse. One common activity that we must approach with great care in either field is the decomposition of complex processes into smaller, simpler, more manageable parts. However, the educator and engineer must always be aware of what may be lost in the decoupling process. We educate students in structural design in this way. It is typical to have separate and distinct course in applied mechanics, materials science, and engineering design. This certainly simplifies the approach to teaching (and perhaps learning) the subject. But the division is wholly artificial, since real, complex structures are a result of an interaction between mechanics, materials, and design. Parallel consideration of all three components is the only way to achieve an optimum structure. Recently, under support from the National Science Foundation and the State of South Dakota, the authors have undertaken a project to link these 3 subjects within a newly developed course in structural design. Central to the linkage of mechanics, materials, and design is the concept of a generalized design template (GDT). The GDT provides a framework for input and output of all data in a process of total structural design. It allows for problem definition, identification of design degrees of freedom and the associated design space, conceptual design activities, and detailed design analysis. The GDT is embedded within a MathCAD workbook. The student has access to worksheets, as well as geometric data, material properties, formulas, etc. Global and local variables can be defined. An example of GDT use is given.

I. Introduction

This paper is concerned with two interconnected activities: • Bridging the divide in teaching the art and science of structural design • Bridging the divide between applied mechanics and materials science

First, a few words about structures and structural design are in order. A structure broadly construed is any physical body that must carry loads, and hence develops stresses and strains. The primary engineering disciplines that design structures are aerospace, civil, and mechanical engineering. Aerospace structural engineers design airplanes, rockets, satellites, and the like. Civil structural engineers design buildings, highways, and bridges. Mechanical structural engineers design machinery, vehicles, and consumer products. From a structures perspective, there is much more in common in what aerospace, civil, and mechanical structural engineers do than there is different.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Khanna, S., & Jenkins, C. (2001, June), Linking Mechanics And Materials In Structural Design: A Generalized Design Template And Its Application Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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