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Statics And Dynamics Projects Emphasizing Introductory Design And Manufacturing

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mechanics Education Programs and Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1095.1 - 13.1095.16

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Paper Authors


Michael Hennessey University of St. Thomas

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DR. MICHAEL P. HENNESSEY is a tenured Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering within the School of Engineering. He has taught over 15 different courses in mechanical engineering at the undergraduate and graduate level and has written 33 papers in research (kinematics, dynamics and control of mechanical systems and related areas of applied mathematics) and mechanical engineering education, including the presentation of 10 papers at ASEE conferences (National (3), along with North Midwest (6) and St. Lawrence (1) sections).

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

Statics and Dynamics Projects Emphasizing Introductory Design and Manufacturing


This paper describes in detail 4 major projects undertaken by mechanical engineering students in an abbreviated laboratory (lab) component of a combined statics and dynamics course, often taken by sophomores. For each of the projects, there was a significant analysis, design, manufacture, and testing aspect with significant interdependent synergy. Specific requirements were provided and the projects were essentially fun-spirited design contests with either a performance index or a class vote determining the best overall project. Two projects were in the statics area (3D Static Equilibrium Demonstrator and 2D Truss Analysis and Fabrication) and two projects were in the dynamics area (Vehicle Wheel Mass Moment of Inertia Demonstrator and Pendulum Style Golf Putter). In addition, two initial projects (Basic Woods and Basic Metals) were aimed at endowing the student with some basic shop skills. Sample student work is showcased along with critical comments. Student feedback is presented and lessons learned offered. The results of this effort generally should be of interest to others involved in statics and dynamics lab instruction or design and manufacturing.

Keywords: statics, dynamics, labs, design projects, and manufacturing

1. Introduction

The main point of this paper is that there is a benefit to using inexpensive, hands-on projects emphasizing introductory design and manufacturing in Statics and Dynamics (3 hrs lecture, 1 hr lab per week), a mainstream course in mechanical engineering (ME) and other related disciplines such as engineering mechanics, and civil & aerospace engineering. Some BSME programs in the US offer labs associated with an introductory course in Statics and/or Dynamics, while others routinely do not. Within the BSME program at the University of St. Thomas, most courses possess a significant lab component and emphasize applied aspects that complement the more theoretically oriented material studied in lecture.1-2 Collectively, the projects described below promote the development of creative, hands-on prototyping skills in the context of understanding fundamental statics and dynamics concepts covered in lecture and in the textbook.3

The paper summarizes in proper chronological order the essence of 6 very different lab projects which focus on shop skills (2 labs with 2 weeks/lab), statics (2 labs with 2 weeks/lab), and dynamics (2 labs with 3 weeks/lab). For each project, a SolidWorks® CAD (computer-aided- design) model was required and students were expected to procure their own components, often cleverly scrounging zero-cost raw materials on their own. They were also introduced to a new quality control term: “fancy dorm room quality,” as the use of advanced manufacturing processes (at least by undergraduate standards) such as machining were not required. For each lab project, the following critical information is made available (where appropriate): Objective Picture of fabricated device or basic theory of operation Major requirements summary Proceedings of the 2008 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2008, American Society for Engineering Education

Hennessey, M. (2008, June), Statics And Dynamics Projects Emphasizing Introductory Design And Manufacturing Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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: © 2008 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