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Teaching Structural Analysis Using Math Cad Software

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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

6.957.1 - 6.957.11

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Nirmal Das

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

Session 3549

Teaching Structural Analysis Using Mathcad Software

Nirmal K. Das Georgia Southern University


Students in the ABET accredited 4-year Civil Engineering Technology program at Georgia Southern University are required to take three courses in the structures area - Structural Analysis, Steel Design, and Reinforced Concrete Design. In the Structural Analysis course, for analysis of simple statically indeterminate structures (beams and frames), students learn two classical methods - slope-deflection method and moment distribution method - before they are given an introduction to the matrix method which is used in computer-aided analysis. Since slope-deflection method forms the basis of the computer-aided analysis, the importance of a thorough understanding of this method can not be overemphasized. Through the traditional way of lecturing and having the students work on related assignments, a good number of students do not seem to quite comprehend the underlying principle, even though by following the procedure rather mechanically, they obtain the correct answers to the problems.

An alternative approach to teaching this very important classical method of structural analysis is discussed in this paper. The suggested approach complements the traditional lecturing by another means such that students can actually see how a structure undergoes a series of deformations at various key locations and consequently, how the internal reactions change at those locations, in a step-by-step manner. Through the use of Mathcad software, students will perform calculations in a sequence and then synthesize the results of these intermediate steps to obtain the final results, while they will also have a graphical representation of their solution. A Mathcad program is developed for this purpose, including graphics computationally linked to the calculations.

Slope-Deflection Method

The slope-deflection method used in analysis of statically indeterminate beams and framed structures, is so called because it relates the unknown slopes and deflections to the moments at the ends of the members of a structure. It is a classical method and is referred to as a displacement method because the unknown joint displacements (slopes and deflections) are determined first by solving the structure’s equilibrium equations; then the other response characteristics are evaluated. These unknown joint displacements are referred to as the degrees of freedom (also called the degree of kinematic indeterminacy). The slope-deflection method takes into account the flexural deformations of structural members (i.e., rotations and

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Das, N. (2001, June), Teaching Structural Analysis Using Math Cad Software Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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