Development Of Online Hands On Experiments For Hybrid Vector Statics Courses
2007 Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Student attrition has been a problem for many engineering programs across the nation such that a significant number of students drop out in their first-and second-year. Vector statics has been a bottleneck course due to its significant number of failures and repeats. In a departmental survey, approximately 44% of the students did not earn a passing grade of C-or above. The high repeat and failure rates of this course significantly hamper the students from moving up in their engineering
... , resulting in a high attrition rate of the engineering students. A group of mechanical engineering faculty members constructed three sets of experimental apparatus for hands-on statics experiments based on the problems in the textbook in an effort to increase better understanding on vector and static equilibrium concepts. One apparatus is a simple pulley-and-rope system to learn 2-D vector resolution and decomposition and force equilibrium of a particle. A second apparatus is a universal force and moment equilibrium tester for students to learn physical natures of the 3-D force and moment vectors, rigid body force and moment equilibrium, and equivalent force-couple system. The third apparatus is a reconfigurable metal truss model with strain gauges attached to the critical members for online monitoring of the resulting member forces over the Internet. The students can conduct a truss design project in conjunction with custom MATLAB computational tools for optimum design configuration and then test the constructed model under physical loading conditions for prediction of failure. High-end multi-and uni-axial force transducers and pneumatic loading mechanisms are interfaced with an advanced data acquisition system using LABVIEW. This paper presents our experiences in developing these sets of hands-on experiments. This new change in teaching traditional vector statics courses will precipitate concomitant revision in offering other traditional engineering courses as well.