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Difference between Intermediate Dynamics / Mechanics?

  1. Dec 11, 2012 #1
    So there's this new course at my school called "Intermediate Dynamics" and I'm wondering if there are any differences between this course and another called "Intermediate Mechanics." Dynamics is in the MAE department and Mechanics in the Physics department.
    Here are the descriptions:

    Intermediate dynamics is a preliminary course in modeling dynamical systems for mechanical and aerospace engineering students. Fundamentals methods of kinematics and kinetics for a system of particles are presented with applications to physical systems. This discussion is followed by the development of equations of motion of a rigid body, including the study of torque free motion and conservation principles. Constrained motion is discussed briefly along with a short study of impulsive motion. The concept of equilibrium points for dynamical systems is introduced and methods of linear analysis are discussed in conjunction with linearization about the equilibrium point. The course concludes with an exposition of vibration theory and its relationship to Eigenvalue problems.

    Here's another description of dynamics from the syllabus:
    Intermediate dynamics is an introductory course in modeling dynamical systems for mechanical and aerospace engineering students. Key applications in science and engineering have been engendered by the
    key developments in Dynamics. Following the footsteps of the giants such as Newton and Euler, this course imparts key tools of vector mechanics to enhance the skillset of young engineers. Making a seamless
    transition from sophomore dynamics, Intermediate Dynamics is designed to provide sufficient training for easy assimilation of advanced senior level courses such as Spacecraft Dynamics and Flight Dynamics.

    Mechanics 1:
    Vectors, Newtonian mechanics: rectilinear motion of a particle, general motion of a particle in three dimensions, oscillations, Hamilton's variational principle: derivation of Lagrange's equations and Hamilton's equations with simple applications , equivalence to Newtonian dynamics, forces of constraint and the Lagrange multiplier method, generalized forces, noninertial reference systems, gravitation and central forces.

    Calling the dynamics course "preliminary" makes it sound like a much watered down version of the latter. Am I correct in thinking this? I'm asking because I have limited slots for electives and I'd rather take the more challenging course than a watered version of the same course.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 11, 2012 #2
    I think you may want to choose the course best fitted for your major. Are you in engineering or physics?

    We have these same courses I believe at my uni, and there is a different emphasis. The engineering course is more focused on vector mechanics(Newton), whereas the physics course works it way up to introducing students to variational mechanics such as lagrangian/hamiltonian mechanics with the intention of preparing them for quantum mechanical forumulation.
  4. Dec 12, 2012 #3
    dynamics is more useful. you'll find that the problems in regular classical mechanics to be uninteresting and contrived for maximum mathematical difficulty (as opposed to usefulness). I mean, hell, if I ever see another double Atwoods problem...

    Also the whole thing about Hamiltonian mechanics being needed for QM is a really tenuous relationship.
  5. Dec 12, 2012 #4
    That's probably not the case. The classes while having similar titles are probably very different in nature. So it depends on what you're interested in. If you want to take mechanics so that you can use it to apply to real life problems such as engineering ones, by far take the Dynamics class. If you are interested in learning more elegant and fundamental formulations of classical mechanics such as the ones developed my Lagrange and Hamilton, and you want to see how they connect to quantum mechanics and other advanced physics topics, take the one offered by the physics department. Keep in mind though that some things from the physics class might still be useful in terms of applications since intermediate mechanics classes usually also go over some orbit dynamics and things like damped/driven/coupled oscillators, however I'm not sure how true the converse would be.

    So bottom line: depends on your interests.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  6. Dec 12, 2012 #5


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    I really disagree with this. I think one would find dynamics more useful if they are interested in applications. I think one would find mechanics more useful if they are interested in a more fundamental approach.
  7. Dec 12, 2012 #6
    Has anyone taken the dynamics course before? I've looked around and it seems like it isn't very popular. My school has just introduced it to the spring semester and I'm wondering how legit it is.
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