SE 1 Introduction to Structures and Design

Description of Course

SE 1 is the introductory course for incoming Structural Engineering students. The course objective is to provide the students with an overview of structural behavior, fundamental structural concepts, the structural design process, and the role of structural engineers.

SE 1 additionally provides an overview of the structural focus sequences that comprise the SE curriculum - Geotechnical Engineering, Civil Structures, Aerospace Structures, and Structural Health Monitoring.

SE 1 is a flagship course for hands-on engineering within the Jacobs School of Engineering Envision Maker Studio.

Featured Hands-On Lab Experiences

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Structural Engineering Fundamentals

These introductory experiments allow students to determine the best structural form, geometry, or material to fulfill a certain function while ensuring that this function can be provided safely over the lifetime of a structure. The experiments include tension, compression, and bending tests on our portable Structural Testing and Recording (STAR) Machines, in addition to natural frequency experiments on our portable shake table.

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Geotechnical Structures

Pairs of students investigate the slope stability of two different types of soils under various water content ratios. They use scaled compacting techniques to consistently compact the soil within a mold and afterwards load the structure to find the weight it can hold before failing. Students are able to visualize the failure planes of their compacted soil structures and notice the differences in capacity and cracking between a sloped face versus a vertical face.

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Civil Structures

Student teams build a balsa structure to effectively resist excitement from an earthquake on a shake table. They use response spectrum plots and simplified calculations to predict the dynamic behavior of their balsa wood structure. Through observation, students can see how forces transfer through their structure and the important of lateral force resisting systems, such as shear walls and bracing.

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Aerospace Structures

Student teams build a whirlybird that maintains a slow descent when dropped from a great height. They have a variety of light-weight materials to choose from and use simplified calculations to predict the velocity of the falling whirlybird based on drag and uplift. Students observe how key aerospace features play a critical role in the performance of a wing structure, such as angle of attack, shape, and surface area.

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Term Project: My Favorite Structure

Teams of students choose a favorite structure, research various aspects of their structure, and build a model. The primary goal of the project is to demonstrate knowledge gained from SE 1 during the quarter and incorporate as many concepts learned as possible.

The project report comprises of researching the geometry and material choices for the structure, in addition to making reasonable assumptions about the load path and structural performance. The model creation is targeted to be built to scale, utilizing student's spatial visualization and hands-on skills by following the proportions and dimensions of the real structure.