Sep 5th 2016

Through Engineers' Eyes: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design (FutureLearn)

Learn the techniques of Engineering Mechanics, use them to interpret experiments and apply them to design. When you design anything, how do you know that the design will work? You need Engineering Mechanics - the science-based analysis that engineers use to predict how their designs will perform, so they can meet their responsibilities for performance and safety. It starts with physics - forces, equilibrium, acceleration, gravity - but then engineers adapt it to their own purposes.

In this free online course, you will learn analytical skills, use them to understand experiments, and apply them in design. You will be living in the engineer’s world.

An unusual approach to learning Engineering Mechanics

Each of the seven weeks of this course has:

- an introduction to set the scene;

- experiments to introduce physical reality;

- analysis videos, paper and pencil tutorials and on-line Adaptive Tutorials to help you develop insights and skills;

- a design activity to give you engineering context (except Week 1);

- and a review process to consolidate your learning.

Experiments will be a special feature. You can do them yourself using common household items such as rubber bands, paper clips, string and cardboard, a toy vehicle. Videos and downloadable instructions will guide you. We hope you’ll do some of them, but if not, you can get what you need from watching the videos.

Adaptive Tutorials will be another special feature. They provide a personalised learning experience through virtual ‘learning by doing’ activities that adapt to your progress.

Here are two examples of typical weekly activities:

Week 3 - the experiments and analysis will present tools for finding forces by applying equilibrium, and for the design activity you will specify the size of a bolt that acts as a pin on a fold-out frame.

Week 6 - the experiments will explore various types of resistance to motion, the analysis will introduce concepts of work and energy, and for the design activity, you will estimate the power requirement and range of an electric car.

A life-changing experience

On completing this course you will have:

- learnt how to manipulate forces as vectors;

- learnt techniques and skills in using free body diagrams and equilibrium to analyse and predict forces;

- understood centres of gravity, friction and various types of resistance;

- and applied these capabilities to design.

And by living in the world of the engineer, you will see how they operate effectively and safely. You will have begun to develop “Engineers’ Eyes”.