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Observations Of Improved Student Comprehension Of Fatigue Analysis Using A Novel Fatigue Pedagogy

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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

6.755.1 - 6.755.14

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William Szaroletta

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

Session 2268

Observations of Improved Student Comprehension of Fatigue Analysis using a Novel Fatigue Pedagogy

William K. Szaroletta, P.E. Purdue University


This paper focuses on the author’s observations of two pedagogical techniques for teaching fatigue related material in an upper division engineering machine elements course, where a working understanding in fatigue analysis factors heavily in the success of a student. Initially, a non-generalized method was utilized, where every new application area would require slightly different student learning. Using student feedback, the described method was devised by the author and presented to the students during lectures. The author observed that this generalized methodology lectures improved student comprehension after this methodology was introduced after one mid-semester break. After integrating the methodology at mid-semester break, student comments were favorable and supported utilization of the methodology during the entire semester.

The author’s efforts to generalize teaching fatigue analysis enabled a much larger number of students to have the confidence to successfully attack complex homework and examination problems than when fatigue was taught in a non-generalized manner. The described structured methodology has been successfully applied in the classroom at three universities. The non- generalized approach for teaching fatigue analysis at the sophomore through senior levels has traditionally been incremental, starting with simple, alternating loading cases and then progressively working through more complex loading cases. The simple loading cases include alternating stresses compared with the endurance strength. More complexity is typically introduced through the addition of mean, midrange, or steady-state stresses to the model. As still more complexity is introduced through the addition of pre-load stresses, the students typically begin questioning when the incremental increases in complexity will taper off.

This paper presents an instructional methodology that enables students to use relatively simple analytical techniques to resolve constant-amplitude, sinusoidal loading patterns into maximum, minimum, steady-state, pre-load, and alternating components. Once these five loading components are determined, standard fatigue analysis techniques can be used to determine the steady-state, pre-load, and alternating stresses caused by these loads. Coupled with the ultimate strength and the determined endurance strength, a factor of safety with respect to fatigue can be determined using the described methodology for a large number of cases that are subsets of the generalized methodology.

While this paper presents an improved pedagogical approach to teaching fatigue, it doesn’t present any new theoretical results from the author’s fatigue research. The pedagogical method builds on the material in two well-accepted engineering textbooks1,2, and demonstrates an improvement in student comprehension of fatigue principals.

Szaroletta, W. (2001, June), Observations Of Improved Student Comprehension Of Fatigue Analysis Using A Novel Fatigue Pedagogy Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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