Asee peer logo

Software Simulations and Project Based Active Learning to Engage Students in an Introductory Statics Course

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Statics - They can move at constant velocity!

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1075.1 - 23.1075.16

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Abhijit Nagchaudhuri University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

visit author page

Abhijit Nagchaudhuri is a Professor in the Department of Engineering and Aviation Sciences at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Nagchaudhuri is a member of ASME and ASEE professional societies and is actively involved in teaching and research in the fields of engineering mechanics, robotics and control systems; precision agriculture and remote sensing; and biofuels and renewable energy. Dr.Nagchaudhuri received his bachelors degree from Jadavpur University in Calcutta, India with a honors in Mechanical Engineering in 1983, thereafter, he worked in a multinational industry for four years before joining Tulane University as a graduate student in the fall of 1987. He received his M.S. degree from Tulane University in 1989 and Ph.D. degree from Duke University in 1992.

visit author page


Rajnish Sharma University of Maryland Eastern Shore

visit author page

Dr. Rajnish Sharma is a full-time tenure-track Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering in the Department of Engineering and Aviation Sciences at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.Dr. Sharma holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University. He has Bachelors and Masters of Technology degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. His areas of expertise are Optimal Feedback Control, Flight Dynamics, Space systems, Dynamic Systems and Control. Dr. Sharma has 4 years of teaching experience as faculty member at the University of Alabama. Currently, in addition to the basic core engineering courses such Statics (ENGE 260), Dynamics (ENGE 261), and Control system (ENGE 380), he is involved to develop and teach mechanical and aerospace specialization courses such as Space Systems Design (ENAE 389), Space Navigation and Guidance (ENAE 412), Design of Autonomous Aerial Systems (ENAE 467), Mechatronics (ENAE/ENME 440) and Robotics (ENME 468).

visit author page

Download Paper |


Team Project Assignment Utilizing Realistic Software Simulation Environment to Engage Students and Advance Learning in an Introductory Statics Course AbstractIn a typical engineering curriculum Statics is the first course offered by engineering faculty thatfreshman students in the engineering major take subsequent to fundamental courses involvingbasic physics and basic Calculus. While freshman design course has been widely adopted inengineering curricula throughout the nation to provide a flavor of real world engineering, sparkcreativity, incorporate project based active learning and teamwork, and improve studentretention; Statics continues to provide significant challenge to freshman engineering students todemonstrate that they have mastered the fundamentals to move on to courses such as Dynamicsand Mechanics of Materials that immediately follow in a typical mechanical, aerospace, civil,biomedical, agricultural and general or integrated engineering curricula. University of MarylandEastern Shore (UMES) offers a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering with specializationoptions in mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and computer engineering. All engineering studentsat UMES are required to take the basic engineering mechanics sequence including Statics,Dynamics, and Mechanics of Material.Statics is offered as a 3 credit lecture course at UMES. Non-uniform preparation levels ofstudents and logistics associated with credit-hour limitation and student contact hours provideenormous challenges to faculty to cover all fundamental concepts and assess student outcomesthat demonstrate their readiness to move on to engineering mechanics courses that follow.Recognizing the difficulty students have in Statics, engineering faculty have discussed aboutintroducing an additional laboratory hour in the curriculum to motivate students and provide aphysical framework to demonstrate the abstract concepts. While additional contact hours willcertainly enhance learning; credit hour limitation of curricula is also a “realistic constraint”around which engineering curricula has to be designed. Integration of realistic computersimulations in and outside engineering classroom enables students to gain hands-on activelearning experiences without expensive laboratory set-ups. Moreover, unlike laboratory set-upsthat can cover only a limited number of physical systems and are available to the students onlyfor a limited period of time, software tools can simulate an unlimited variety of physical systemsthat can be manipulated at will without risk of damage or maintenance and are available forstudent use for extended periods of time.In this paper we outline how online tools and simulation software have been utilized to introduceactive and project based learning in the Statics course at UMES. The emphasis has been onmastering important fundamental concepts while encouraging cooperative learning andteamwork. Learning curve associated with mastering the software environment provides somechallenges, however, motivated students can overcome the initial hurdles by utilizing the facultyoffice hours more effectively as they transition from a “teacher-centered” passive learningframework to a “learner centered” active learning framework.

Nagchaudhuri, A., & Sharma, R. (2013, June), Software Simulations and Project Based Active Learning to Engage Students in an Introductory Statics Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015