Engineering-Mechanical (56) The proof-of-concept project is developing a multi-purpose "smart" flexible beam experiment using state-of-the art surface-bound piezoceramic sensors and actuators for in-class demonstration and laboratory use. The sensors and actuators are being attached to a low-cost cantilever beam to utilize their multi-functional capabilities, which includes the ability to sense and to react to external stimuli.
The material is being developed for instruction in dynamics, controls, mechatronics, and smart structures related courses in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and engineering technology programs. Experiments include (1) strain or vibration measurements, (2) dynamics of a second order system, (3) understanding Bode diagram representation of a higher order dynamics system, (4) modal frequencies and shapes, (5) resonance of an under-damped dynamics system, (6) active vibration control using classical linear, modern, and non-linear control methods, and (7) finite element modeling of structures. The project is being developed in a state-of-the-art Smart Materials and Structural Laboratory where the research of emerging technologies are being integrated into undergraduate education.
In order to assess student learning for different populations of students, the project is engaging collaborators at Avlin Community College, Texas Southern University, a minority serving institution, University of Southern Alabama and Rice University. Assessment strategies include both formative and summative evaluations to determine the impact that the smart beam has on recruiting minorities, improved student learning in 15 different classes that are taught by 10 different instructors, and the effect of the project on motivating students to pursue graduate studies. Industrial support is assessing the technical aspects of the smart vibration platform as an effective, low-cost commercially available educational product that can be manufactured and operated as planned. The program is developing a CD and web access for use at other institutions.