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Understanding Internal Loading Through Hands On Experiences

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Innovative Lab and Hands-on Projects

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1226.1 - 7.1226.5



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Paper Authors

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Anna Dollar

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Paul Steif

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

Main Menu Session 2168


Anna Dollár, Paul S. Steif

Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Department Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056 / Department of Mechanical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Statics is ultimately of value because it is used, along with other theories, to predict the behavior of real objects. Unfortunately, Statics instruction traditionally focuses on mathematical manipulations, often leaving the student unable to perceive the presence of a force or moment in a real life situation. Moreover, students cannot learn Statics in a very abstract way and then be expected in later courses to apply those ideas to real artifacts. Along with many faculty, we are disappointed with the extent to which students are able to use Statics in the analysis and design of mechanical systems and structures which they confront in their subsequent education1, and later in their professional careers. We believe that physical experiences with forces and moments that act between, or within, objects must be part and parcel of the very earliest exposure to Statics.

Statics is taught traditionally in the context of rigid bodies, and it is logically consistent with rigid bodies. However, Statics is mostly to be used in circumstances in which the motion of objects, or their deformation and failure, is in question. Thus, students must ultimately learn to couple the ideas of Statics with motion and deformation. Moreover, from a pedagogical viewpoint, the most important ideas of Statics – forces and moments and how they arise between connected members - are truly understood only by reference to motion and deformation. While Statics does not concern itself with the time dependence of motion (velocity and acceleration), it does implicitly depend on distinguishing between translations and rotations in different directions. Only by contemplating motions in various directions, can one rationalize the force and moments that may or may not exist between objects that are connected (or parts of the same body). In addition, forces and moments are measured in engineering practice only by the motions or deformations they cause.

Statics utilizes a single principle of physics (equilibrium), which it elaborates substantially and applies to model real systems for the purposes of design. Since students have trouble applying the principle of equilibrium, rather than understanding the principle itself, we see great relevance in Reif’s 2 idea of the importance of interpreting scientific and engineering quantities in various contexts.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Dollar, A., & Steif, P. (2002, June), Understanding Internal Loading Through Hands On Experiences Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10420

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