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Visualizing Soil Deformation in the Undergraduate Classroom Using Digital Image Correlation (DIC)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 2

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1709.1 - 26.1709.17



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Paper Authors


Michael Patrick McGuire P.E. Lafayette College

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Dr. Michael P. McGuire is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dr. McGuire teaches courses in geotechnical engineering, sustainability, and engineering design as well as advises undergraduate students participating in research projects and independent studies. His research interests include column-supported embankments, mechanically-stabilized earth walls, and flood protection infrastructure. He is also interested in the application of terrestrial LIDAR to performance monitoring of geotechnical structures.

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Jeffrey David Helm Lafayette College

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ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition MP McGuire ( soil deformation in the classroom using Digital Image Correlation (DIC)Techniques such as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and Digital Image Correlation (DIC)enable the movement of particles to be ascertained from a time-lapse series of digital images.Recent improvements in hardware and software have made these techniques assessable enoughfor use in the classroom. This paper describes the application of DIC to help students enrolled inan introductory course in geotechnical engineering to visualize the movement of soil particles.Theories of bearing capacity and lateral earth pressure are traditionally taught with a focus onpredicting the limiting soil stress that can act on a structural component, such as a footing orwall. Often, less emphasis is placed on the accompanying soil deformation. Understanding therelationship between deformation and stress helps students to distinguish between aserviceability limit state (e.g. maximum tolerable movement) and an ultimate limit state (e.g.bearing capacity failure). Furthermore, theories of bearing capacity and lateral earth pressurecovered in an introductory geotechnical engineering course typically simplify the shape of slipsurfaces within the soil mass that experience shear failure and assume full mobilization of shearstrength along the entire slip surface. Thoughtful application of these theories is enhanced whenthe student is aware of the complexities ignored when making simplifying assumptions,including that slip surfaces within soil are often nonplanar and are actually bands of soil withnon-zero thickness that have undergone a progressive accumulation of shear strain. This paperdescribes the main components of the DIC classroom demonstration system including the glass-paneled test box, soil, camera, and software. The paper also provides the procedures followed tovisualize soil deformation as well as the associated capabilities and limitations. Finally, the paperprovides preliminary results on how this application of DIC has impacted the level of attainmentby students on test questions assessing their understanding of bearing capacity and lateral earthpressure theories.

McGuire, M. P., & Helm, J. D. (2015, June), Visualizing Soil Deformation in the Undergraduate Classroom Using Digital Image Correlation (DIC) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25045

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