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Use Of Mathcad In Computing Beam Deflection By Conjugate Beam Method

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Civil ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1354.1 - 9.1354.16



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Paper Authors

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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 2649

Use of Mathcad in Computing Beam Deflection by Conjugate Beam Method

Nirmal K. Das Georgia Southern University


The four-year, ABET-accredited Civil Engineering Technology curriculum at Georgia Southern University includes a required, junior-level course in Structural Analysis. One of the topics covered is the conjugate beam method for computing slope and deflection at various points in a beam. The conjugate beam method is a geometric method and it relies only on the principles of statics. The usefulness of this method lies in its simplicity. The students can utilize their already acquired knowledge of shearing force and bending moment to determine a beam’s slope and deflection.

An approach to teaching this important method of structural analysis that complements the traditional lecturing through inclusion of a powerful, versatile and user-friendly computational tool, is discussed in this paper. Students will learn how to utilize Mathcad to perform a variety of calculations in a sequence and to verify the accuracy of their manual solutions. A Mathcad program is developed for this purpose and examples to illustrate the computer program are also included in this paper. The integration of Mathcad will enhance students’ problem-solving skills, as it will allow them to focus on analysis while the software performs routine calculations. Thus it will promote learning by discovery, instead of leaving the student in the role of a passive observer.


With the objective of enhanced student learning, adoption of various instructional technology and inclusion of computer-aided problem-solving modules into the curriculum has been a trend for civil engineering and civil engineering technology programs. More specifically, the effective incorporation of a variety of software packages for the teaching-learning process related to the structural analysis course has been addressed in several articles1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 in recent years. Analysis of both statically determinate and statically indeterminate structures, by classical methods (slope-deflection and moment distribution) and stiffness method, using EXCEL, MATLAB and Mathcad9, have been covered in those articles. However, one very important and useful method, the conjugate beam method, was not addressed. The purpose of this paper is to present a simple and effective approach used by the author to teach this important topic of structural analysis incorporating the use of Mathcad software.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Das, N. (2004, June), Use Of Mathcad In Computing Beam Deflection By Conjugate Beam Method Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13863

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