Widgets for Visualizing Engineering

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi! First off, I'm just an upcoming junior in Civil Engineering, and I have little teaching experience. I have done well in engineering classes so far though, and I've thought about ways to improve how classes are taught. While there are some widgets for engineering, like those in MATHTAB and Wolfram Alpha, they seem to be mainly meant as calculators. There is almost nothing in them which could not be easily visualized on paper or in one's head. However, in many of the introductory engineering courses, there does seem to be much intuition which can be understood through visuals but is typically overlooked by students. I've started working on widgets with MATLAB to show this intuition, and here are several ideas:

  • Modify material properties and stresses on a material element and see deformation. Apply transformations to see how stress transformations clearly relate to a geometric transformation of the deformed element.
  • Shows internal stresses in element of beam undergoing user defined shear and moment. Make cuts into beam and see horizontal shear stress. This should show how stresses on the vertical cross section relate to shear and moment forces, and how force balance relates normal and horizontal shear stress
  • Shows cylinder undergoing torsion to show the relation between the shear stress and the deformation.
  • Define vector field representing steady fluid flow by controlling value at a point and first order derivatives. See how the vector field relates to the acceleration a particle giving insight for Euler's equations.
  • Shows cylindrical element of fluid in a pipe to show how force balance gives rise to the velocity profile. User defines radius of element and flow rate.
Realistically, it will likely end up as an interesting project to put on my resume. However, I would be making them with the goal of being useful to complement instruction and for students' personal use. Do you think they could be useful? Do you have any advice to give? Thanks!
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Answers and Replies

  • #3
Science Advisor
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No thanks.

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