Transformation in SE Education

Full Session with Abstracts

339351-3 - Structural Stability, and the Complement to the Differential Equation

Friday, April 20
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: 202A

A fundamental understanding of structural stability is a requirement for engineers who design metal structures. Given that sophisticated computer analysis software tools are only now becoming more readily available, the teaching and learning of structural stability have been and continues to be heavily rooted in the development and solution of the related differential equations. For many structural engineering students, who may not be well versed or interested in this level of math, basic structural stability concepts are not being learned because of their perception that an understanding of structural stability requires the ability to be proficient in solving differential equations. To compensate for this and given that in-class physical laboratory testing is often impractical, faculty often resort to descriptions of experimental tests and the results obtained. Although this is a significant step in the right direction, this passive learning approach is not ideal. With this in mind, the author has developed a series of nine stability learning modules that employ readily available and relatively easy to use nonlinear analysis software. Although no statistical data has been gathered, this “virtual” laboratory experience has been in use for the past year at many universities in the U.S. and the results are very encouraging. This paper will provide an overview of these modules, including their consistent format, dissemination, and related instructional YouTube videos. A detailed description of one of the modules, including the simple finite element model employed, is also provided.

Ronald D. Ziemian

Associate Dean
Bucknell University

Ron Ziemian is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is an Associate Dean in the College of Engineering. Professor Ziemian earned his B.S. and M.Eng degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University, and gained several years of industrial experience at Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation before returning to Cornell for his Ph.D. degree. He joined the Bucknell faculty in 1991, was awarded tenure in 1997, and achieved the rank of full professor in 2003. Professor Ziemian is a structural engineer who applies advanced methods of computational analysis toward developing a better understanding of the stability behavior of metal structures. His doctoral thesis research is credited as one of the foundational works in the application of modern methods of nonlinear analysis in the design of steel structures, for which he earned the American Society of Civil Engineers’ highest honor awarded for a technical paper; the ASCE Norman Medal (1994). His research has since progressed to include the development of the direct analysis method, and represents a body of work that continues to be of use to practitioners in the field, and has resulted in significant changes to U.S. steel and aluminum structural design specifications. As such, his scholarly work has been supported by the American institute of Steel Construction, the Steel Joist Institute, and the Aluminum Association, and he has been recognized with honors including the ASCE Shortridge Hardesty Award (2013), the AISC Special Achievement Award (2006), and Bucknell University’s Presidential Professorship (2010).

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