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Student Designed Experiments In A Traditional Mechanics Of Materials Laboratory Course

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design of Lab Experiments

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1152.1 - 10.1152.7



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Mays

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

Student Designed Experiments in a Traditional Mechanics of Materials Laboratory Course Timothy W. Mays, Joshua T. Boggs, Thomas E. Hill, David B. Warren, and Pongsakorn Kaewkornmaung Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering The Citadel

Abstract Criterion 3 of ABET 2004-2005 Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs1 requires that all engineering programs seeking accreditation manifest that their graduates have an ability to “design and conduct experiments as well as to analyze and interpret data.” The ASCE Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century4 supports this requirement and expands on its merit as related to the work of typical civil engineers. Many structural, transportation, environmental, and geotechnical engineers conduct onsite, laboratory, or computer modeling experiments on a regular basis. These studies often culminate in technical reports. Civil engineering programs often attempt to prepare students for such activities by requiring all students to participate in laboratory exercises and to prepare formal reports of the resulting data analysis and interpretation. Although a traditional mechanics of materials laboratory course can meet this goal, commonly used experiments do not prepare students to conduct a critical part of the process described in ABET Criterion 3; designing the experiment. Through the help of a benefactor, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel has attempted to address this issue in its Mechanics of Materials Laboratory (CIVL 307) course by replacing over fifty percent of the experiments. Students now design their own experiments with various pieces of equipment that attach to a large structural frame. Beam bending, column buckling, and shear and bending moment are a few of the subjects studied in the new exercises. In addition, all students are required to write a formal report to a product developer describing the experimental testing that would likely be required for his/her new product to obtain approval by the International Code Council Evaluation Service, Inc. This paper presents the laboratory design process used by the students for several exercises performed in CIVL 307, an evolutionary summary of student responses to the design process, and the results of a student attitudes assessment survey performed at the end of the semester.

Introduction For civil engineering students, the value of laboratory experimentation cannot be overstated. It would be advantageous to solve all problems in the engineering field analytically; however, that is neither practical nor achievable. In most disciplines of civil engineering, engineers are at times required to conduct and/or design onsite, laboratory, or computer modeling experiments and it is essential for students to understand the basic concepts needed to design and conduct these experiments. Moreover, ABET Criterion 3 indicates that students must have a clear

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Mays, T. (2005, June), Student Designed Experiments In A Traditional Mechanics Of Materials Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14468

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: © 2005 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