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The Static Stability Factor – A Dynamic Introduction To Engineering

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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

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1326.1 - 10.1326.10



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Edgar

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Michael Urynowicz

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Jerry Hamann

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

The Static Stability Factor – A Dynamic Introduction to Engineering

Thomas V. Edgar, Michael A. Urynowicz and Jerry C. Hamann

University of Wyoming Laramie, WY 80271


Most students want to become engineers so they can design and build things. An introductory course in engineering should pique those interests and provide information and activities which show the breadth of the field of engineering. This paper presents a series of laboratory activities based on the Static Stability Factor (SSF), used in vehicle design to determine under what conditions a vehicle will spinout or rollover.

The student interest is natural. Many students have been involved in spinouts and even rollovers during their driving experiences which lead them to be curious about the factors that are significant. They can usually guess that the trackwidth and the weight (more correctly, the center of gravity) of the vehicle are significant. The SSF is equal to one-half the trackwidth of the vehicle divided by the height of the center of gravity. Hence, it is easy to understand and manipulate. This leads to a simple series of experiments using five similar vehicles with varying trackwidths. These are:

1) Determination of rollover angle and calculation of the center of gravity. 2) Measurement of sliding friction leading to rollover. 3) Stability measurement on a rotating table. 4) Demonstration of superelevation using a ramp on the rotating table.

Topics which can be discussed are broad and represent some of the spectrum of engineering, including friction and interfaces, vehicle design, experimental measurements and errors, experimental safety, graphical presentation, data acquisition instrumentation and control, road and traffic safety, effects of tires and suspension systems and vehicle stability alarms. This is also related to the design and construction of the Mars Rover Vehicles through an excellent NOVA video entitled “Mars: Dead or Alive” on the interaction between engineers and scientists.


The University of Wyoming College of Engineering has had a required 1 hour introductory freshman course for over 12 years. Entitled ES1000 – Orientation to Engineering, it was originally developed under a University Studies Program which was created to insure that all university graduates have a general core curriculum. The course as it was initially implemented had some very broad requirements with little flexibility in regard to specific college needs.

“Proceeding of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Edgar, T., & Urynowicz, M., & Hamann, J. (2005, June), The Static Stability Factor – A Dynamic Introduction To Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14846

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