I have just finished teaching Structures 1 to first year Civil and Aerospace engineers. This unit covers a lot of basic material like bending moment and shear force diagrams. In the detail of all this it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of why these topics are interesting and useful. So, for the coursework element of the unit, I set an open-ended brief asking students to research any structure (widely interpreted) of their choice, and explore it in a conceptual way. I also gave marks for creativity in communicating the findings. After last year’s investigation of the structure known as “Martin Gillie“, this year’s submissions are no less imaginative. I highlight five below that caught my attention particularly:
Supernatural(?) structures were considered by Arabhi Krishnan, Ruth Kellett, Ana Gea Espinos, Bronte Dallas-Cross whose seminal study of the structural mechanics of Santa’s reindeer and sleigh will surely be the reference work on this topic for many years.
Dmitirj Usov, Iliass Tanouti, Daniel Del Monte and Syed Wasti looked at the structural mechanics of aircraft landing gear in a very well produced video, looking at topics like materials, weight efficiency and shock absorbing techniques.
Cormack Better, Joshua Nwokike and Vlad-Alexandru Duta went for a traditional poster and undertook some novel experimental work on card houses, using water filled bottles to assess their strength.
A very different type of structure – tents – were considered by Kristijan Djundev, Svetoslav Dimitrov, Silviana-Andreea Horga and Iuliu-Cezar Ardelean. This group also produced a high quality video, looking at the various design requirements for tents’ such as weight, strength, UV degradation, as well discussing some of the mechanics involved in tent behaviour.
Also using a poster to present, Kabelo Sekoto, Cyrus Jamali, Matthew Brown and Zhouzhou Li looked at the behaviour of sun-flowers. Like most biological structures, sunflowers are complex and this group did some varied reading to learn more about how they work.