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Using Solid Modeling to Enhance Learning in Mechanics of Materials and Machine Component Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

CAD Within Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Edwin M. Odom University of Idaho, Moscow

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Dr. Odom teaches introductory CAD courses, advanced CAD courses, mechanics of materials, manufacturing technical electives and machine component design within the Mechanical Engineering program. He is involved with the inter-disciplinary capstone design program, experimental mechanics, and has participated in several NSF grants one of which formalized the Mindworks learning resource. Professor Odom is a co-leader of the Idaho Engineering Works (IEW).

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Steven W. Beyerlein University of Idaho, Moscow

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Dr. Beyerlein has taught at the University of Idaho for the last 28 years. He is coordinator of the college of engineering inter-disciplinary capstone design course and currently serves as the Department Chair for Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Beyerlein has been active in research projects involving engine testing, engine heat release modeling, design of curricula for active , design pedagogy, and assessment of professional skills.

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This article reports on a classroom research study about the use of solid modeling as a visualization tool for deep learning of engineering mechanics principles. There is a need for deep understanding of technical content in courses such as Mechanics of Materials and Machine Component Design in order to lay the foundation for robust prototypes in Capstone Design. A typical classroom experience in mid-program engineering science courses involves lecture followed by assigning problems from the text. Associated lecture notes and explanations along with assigned problems and their solutions are in a two dimensional form, i.e., presented as printed output or handwriting on a page. The equations used are also in two dimensional in form, reducing physical behavior to analytical expressions and cross sectional properties to a single value. It is not easy for the beginning learner to visually connect the course content and problems to the three dimensional world. Instead of the desired outcome of interpreting the assigned problem from the world around them, students look to pattern match the figure in the assigned problem to figures or location in the chapter. To provide an opportunity to more fully engage in their learning experience, a series of assignments has been developed where students use skills from their 3-D solid modeling course to conceptualize and even solve mechanics problems. These exercises begin by using a fully defined 2-D sketch to graphically solve static problems. Next, the 2-D sketch is used to determine cross sectional properties, e.g. cross sectional areas, second moments of area, product of inertia, and principal moments of inertia and centroid locations. These results are then compared to the results that were calculated manually. Later 3-D solid modeling is used to model 3-D stress states in support of 3-D Mohr’s circle exercises, stress distributions of compound stress states, shapes of optimized beams, and frustrom measurements needed in a bolted connection analysis. The effectiveness of these visualization enhanced assignments has been assessed through pre-course surveys, quality of homework submissions, post homework visitations and post-course surveys.

Odom, E. M., & Beyerlein, S. W. (2016, June), Using Solid Modeling to Enhance Learning in Mechanics of Materials and Machine Component Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27162

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