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Use Of A Small Scale Models Testing Laboratory To Teach Structural Dynamics

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.570.1 - 4.570.13

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Anant Kukreti

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

Session 2315

Use of a Small-Scale Models Testing Laboratory to Teach Structural Dynamics

Anant R. Kukreti University of Oklahoma


This paper describes the development and use of a unique teaching laboratory that was established to enhance the teaching of structural dynamics to civil engineering seniors and first year graduate students. The laboratory was developed by extending an existing Small-Scale Structural Behavior Laboratory, which was primarily focused on statically loaded structures, with the addition of dynamic models, excitation equipment, and faster data acquisition systems. An "erector set" concept was followed in the development of test models, so that students can vary model properties without fabrication of new components. Equipment and procedures were developed for experimentation on free vibrations of one and two degrees of freedom systems with various types and degrees of damping, response of these systems to base motion, and effects of various base isolators on these models. Two undergraduate students assembled, debugged, and conducted these tests and generated a step-by-step manual to make the experimental work easier for subsequent students. Lessons learned in the development of this laboratory and its use by students, and the future use planned are also addressed in the paper.

I. Introduction

Recent experiences in teaching structural dynamics to civil engineering students suggest that exposing students to physical models of dynamic systems may significantly enhance their understanding of the topic. Many students of this generation appear to be focused on the mathematical modeling of dynamic systems and do a good job of solving the mathematical problems, but lack a clear understanding of the physical implications of the solutions which they obtain. It is believed that if students could be motivated to study physical models along with the corresponding mathematical models, they would develop a much deeper understanding of the dynamic solutions, and also gain an appreciation of the implied assumptions of the mathematical models and how important deviations from these assumptions may be. In order to expose students to a positive experience in working with physical models of dynamic systems, the following wish list was developed:

1. At least some of the experiments should be more than just passive demonstrations, so that the students can be motivated to explore answers to their own questions about the behavior of dynamic systems.

2. Sufficient equipment and room need to be available so that multiple groups of students can work simultaneously, keeping the individual group size to a small number.

Kukreti, A. (1999, June), Use Of A Small Scale Models Testing Laboratory To Teach Structural Dynamics Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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