Aug 2nd 2016

The Engineering of Structures Around Us (edX)

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Explore how engineers design bridges and buildings in our communities and iconic structures around the world.

In this introductory course, you’ll learn the engineering principles that can be applied to structural systems everywhere: in nature, in furniture, in mechanical and aerospace systems, and in any solid object that resists a load.

Together we’ll explore how structures work, why they were designed the way they were designed, how they support loads, and where forces flow through them.

You’ll learn through a series of hands-on, inquiry-based activities with easily accessible materials, as well as with online simulation tools. We’ll provide lots of guidance for each activity but also encourage you to be creative and experiment so that you may discover the forms and designs that work best.

More specifically we’ll:

- Apply the engineering design process to build innovative structural systems such as cardboard chairs, models of cable-stayed bridges, and tensegrity sculptures.

- Learn about funicular forms and how ropes and cables resist tension.

- Discuss how columns, arches, and anti-funicular forms resist compression.

- Discover how trusses, beams and walls resist loads.

- Sketch the flow of forces through a structure.

- Compare and contrast different structural forms and systems to answer a range of questions such as: Why might an engineer choose a beam over a truss? How do the dimensions of a structure affect its response? How do engineers choose forms and systems to create structures that are both elegant and functional?

By experimenting with physical models you will gain a deeper understanding of structural behavior and will be able to think more critically about how structures are engineered.

Join us in exploring the engineering of structures around us.

What you'll learn:

- How and why the world's structures (including structures in the natural and biological world) were designed and constructed the way they were​

- To conceptually design and build prototypes of structures

- That engineering goes beyond math and science and involves much creativity and innovation

- To identify and compare structural elements, forms, and systems

- To describe the loads expected on a structure and the resulting flow of forces through the structure