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Simulation Software In A Dynamics Laboratory

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.495.1 - 3.495.7



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Paper Authors

author page

Ronald D. Earley

author page

Thomas G. Boronkay

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


Simulation Software in a Dynamics Laboratory

Thomas G. Boronkay, Ronald D. Earley University of Cincinnati/Miami University


The first course in dynamics is generally taught without providing any laboratory experience to the students. Concepts of particle and rigid body kinematics and kinetics are introduced and reinforced through the assignment of a significant number of textbook problems. While this technique provides the student ample practice in the areas of conceptual theory and formula application and manipulation, it is lacking in the area of visual reinforcement. One result of such a pedagogical approach often leads to an attitude that the course is nothing more than frustrating exercises in formula manipulation and that much of the material studied is marginally useful at best. This paper offers an alternative to this classic approach by describing an outline for setting- up a computer laboratory component within a typical introductory dynamics course in the Mechanical Engineering Technology curriculum. Sample assignments, as well as examples of tutorials handed to the students, will also be presented.


Courses in Mechanics consist of Statics, Particle Kinematics and Kinetics of Particles and Rigid Bodies. Usually Statics is introduced at the freshmen level, whereas Kinematics and Kinetics are covered in a one quarter or semester junior level Dynamics course. These courses are usually structured to include lecture and recitation sessions. Textbook practice problems are assigned to help reinforce the theoretical concepts and solution methods discussed during the lectures. Absent from these courses is any kind of structured laboratory session. This was due to the lack of sufficient equipment and physical facility. With the advent of relatively inexpensive computer hardware and software, simulation software can be used to visually reinforce the concepts taught during the lectures.

This paper describes a way of introducing a laboratory component in a junior level Dynamics course for Mechanical Engineering Technology students, using a commercial Computer Simulation software package. Two variations of this approach have been tried during the 1997/98 academic year, one at Miami University, Middletown, Ohio, the other at the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. The method and material used, as well as the student response will be presented in this paper. The Tutorial and the sample problems, used by the students, were developed by the authors using the new edition of "Vector Mechanics for Engineers" by Beer & Johnston, McGraw-Hill but they could be adapted to be used in conjunction with other textbooks.


The Dynamics course offered by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Miami University is a new, 3-semester hour course, consisting of a 2 hours lecture and one hour laboratory session.

Earley, R. D., & Boronkay, T. G. (1998, June), Simulation Software In A Dynamics Laboratory Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7407

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