Undergraduate Materials, Structures, and Controls Instructional Laboratories

Laboratory location: 15A, 201, 205K Talbot Lab, and 3075 ECE Building

For Use By: Undergraduate Students

The undergraduate laboratories where students about structures and materials are located in Talbot Lab. Throughout the course students participate in experiments emphasizing classical structural analysis as well as the manufacturing and testing of modern materials like carbon fiber composite laminates. The experiments involving beam bending, torsion, buckling, and frequency response are grouped together. The students involved in the course test their material samples in the College of Engineer’s materials testing laboratory which is conveniently located in Talbot lab. Additionally, through a partnership with Electrical and Computer Engineering, students utilize a laboratory in their building for controls applications. Experiments in that laboratory emphasize control theory through a series of experiments involving a compound pendulum with various feedback controllers.

Facility and Equipment Description

Bending-Torsion Experiment

The test frame for combined bending-torsion experiments allows students to measure the properties of carbon fiber composite and aluminum tubes while utilizing experimental methods common in structures research. Students apply various loads to the tubes which results in some deflection. The total deflection of the tubes is measured, and strain gauges measure local changes in the materials.  

Bending Torsion experiment in lab
Bending Torsion experiment in lab

Composites Manufacturing and Mechanical Property Testing

Using carbon fiber sheets, students create polymer matrix laminate composites in teams. The base material has unidirectional fibers, so the students must cut and assemble various orientations from the original material in order to build a testing sample that has strength in multiple directions. After working in one laboratory session to build their composite samples, the students test their mechanical properties during a different session. During the testing session, the samples are tested until they fail illustrating some of the interesting properties of composite structures.

Structural Dynamics of a Cantilever Beam

The frequency response of a cantilevered steel beam can be measured in this structural dynamics laboratory. The beam is instrumented with an accelerometer such that small fluctuations in the beam’s position can be identified. The excitation hammer is also instrumented in order to trigger the data acquisition for the accelerometer. The frequency modes for the beam can be identified.

Buckling of Slender Rods

The beam buckling laboratory provides students with the opportunity to predict and directly observe the results of applying a compression force to a slender rod. The applied force is measure along with the deflection near the center of the rod. Various size and material rods can be tested allowing a range of data to be collected.