Small Scale Structure Testing Lab

Background

Computerized structural analysis is a powerful and beneficial tool for structural engineering students. However, proficiency in computerized structural analysis without complementary laboratory experiences can undermine the ability of students to visualize the physical responses of basic structures under various loading conditions. In addition, lack of practical laboratory experiences can cause students to have a false sense of security or "blind faith" in computer output.

In view of these potential problems, an AN/EX (Analysis and Experiment) facility has been developed to encourage cross-verification between computer analyses and laboratory experiments. This is accomplished by first predicting the behavior of small-scale structural models by running a sophisticated structural analysis computer program, and then actually measuring the responses of these structural models in the AN/EX test bed using a sophisticated data acquisition system. AN/EX then facilitates real-time comparisons between the analytical predictions and the experimental data.

AN/EX can be used by students who fall within a broad spectrum of computer expertise-- from those who have little computer background to those who use computers extensively. AN/EX software includes a friendly preprocessor to the on-board structural analysis program named "M-STRUDL" (Microprocessor Structural Design Language). The preprocessor, called INPUT, contains thorough instructions and on-line help to facilitate the creation of a valid M-STRUDL input file that will be used to perform an M-STRUDL computer analysis of the small-scale model structure.

Objectives

Teach students to use a sophisticated, professional-quality structural analysis software packageM-STRUDLwithout requiring them to wrestle with a voluminous user's manual.

Enable students to perform side-by-side comparisons of manual analyses, computer (M-STRUDL) analyses, and small-scale model experiments. Demonstrate the pitfalls of accepting, without verification, either analytical results or experimental data, and reinforce the importance of independent solution checks and mutual verification of analysis and experiment.

Enable students to develop a deeper understanding of the physical response of structures to various loading condition.

Enable students to become familiar with data acquisition systems and proper experimental techniques.

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