Asee peer logo

What’s Next After Mechanics of Materials?

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Teaching Mechanics of Materials

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1371.1 - 24.1371.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


William E. Howard East Carolina University

visit author page

William E. Howard is an associate professor at East Carolina University. He has 14 years of industry experience and 17 years of academic experience at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and ECU.

visit author page

author page

Odis Hayden Griffin Jr. P.E. East Carolina University

author page

Ihab Ragai East Carolina University

Download Paper |


What’s Next After Mechanics of Materials?In most engineering programs, students complete a common core of mechanics courses – statics,dynamics, fluid mechanics, and mechanics of materials. The content of mechanics of materialscourses is relatively consistent, including the study of stresses, strains, and deflections ofcomponents subjected to axial and shear forces and torsion and bending moments, combinedstresses, and failure criteria. Mechanical engineering students will have additional courses inkinematics and machine component design, and may have courses in the theory of elasticity,plates and shells, fatigue theory, structural vibrations, finite element analysis, and/or stability ofstructures. Some of these advanced courses are taught at the undergraduate level, and others atthe graduate level. Some programs have a course with a title such as “Intermediate Mechanics ofMaterials” or “Advanced Mechanics of Materials,” which include a variety of topics that expandon the concepts learned in the first mechanics of materials course. This is the course of interestfor this paper. At _____ University, a mechanical engineering concentration is offered as anoption on a general (BS Engineering) program. A course titled “Solid Mechanics” follows themechanics of materials course, and is intended to cover topics that are important to engineersworking in mechanical design, but cannot be adequately covered in either the first mechanics ofmaterials course or in the machine design course.Several texts exist with the title “Advanced Mechanics of Materials” or “Advanced Strength ofMaterials,” including J. P. Den Hartog’s classic 1952 work. In the introduction to that text, theauthor explains his goal to bridge the gap between elementary mechanics of materials texts andthe advanced works of Stephen Timoshenko. The table of contents for Den Hartog’s bookinclude chapters on torsion, beams on elastic foundations, buckling, energy methods, membranestresses in shells, bending stresses in plates, and 2-D elasticity. The treatment of these topics isrigorous; the text was intended for two semesters of class work, one at the undergraduate leveland one at the graduate level.Of course, in 1952 students did not have access to the power of personal computers and finiteelement analysis (FEA) software. A question that has been discussed continuously since theintroduction of these tools is: how much of the rigorous theory is required for a practicingengineer, now that the calculations can be done by software? As we refine our solid mechanicscourse at ____ University, we are attempting to balance an appropriate amount of theory whilecovering topics that we believe are important to a working mechanical engineer, includingfatigue, plates and shells, vibrations, FEA theory, and non-linear analysis. Where appropriate,we are integrating the use of FEA and programming (MATLAB) into the solution of problems,with comparisons to solutions from handbooks such as Roark and Young’s Formulas for Stressand Strain.In the paper, we will present a study of a sample existing Mechanical Engineering programs,exploring what topics are covered in specialized courses or as part of an advanced mechanics ofmaterials class. We will discuss the content that we have placed in our solid mechanics course,and revisions planned based on the study of other programs. Although assessment data of thecourse itself is limited to student surveys, we will show how assignments have been used toassess program outcomes.

Howard, W. E., & Griffin, O. H., & Ragai, I. (2014, June), What’s Next After Mechanics of Materials? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23304

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015