Effectiveness of engineering design focus in strength of materials

Cliff J. Lissenden, Peggy Van Meter, Nicholas J. Salamon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Elementary strength of materials is a core undergraduate engineering course that introduces the mechanics of deformable bodies. Traditionally, the focus of the course is on analysis, but we have recast the course to apply analysis to design in order to better prepare students to become engineers - design being the primary function of practicing engineers. A semester-long design project has been implemented to provide an opportunity for students to practice design. Student teams design playground equipment including: conceptual layout, material selection, load specification, design analysis, drawings, cost estimate, and final report. A web site has been created to facilitate administration of the project, provide links to data sources, and give design analysis examples. This paper summarizes the design project and the tools created to ease the time burden associated with the project. The focus is on assessment of the effectiveness of the project. The results of the assessment over three semesters at Penn State are positive. Analysis of the data indicates that the students who completed the course with design emphasis are better skilled at design and perform equally at analysis relative to those students completing the traditional strength of materials course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010 - Conference Program
StatePublished - 2010
Event40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010 - Arlington, VA, United States
Duration: Oct 27 2010Oct 30 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other40th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference: Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation, FIE 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityArlington, VA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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