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Dartmouth College

The Engineering of Structures Around Us

Dartmouth College via edX


In this introductory course, you’ll learn some engineering principles that can be applied to structural systems everywhere: in nature, in furniture, in mechanical and aerospace systems, and in any solid object that resists a load.

Together we’ll explore how structures work, why they were designed the way they were designed, how they support loads, and where forces flow through them.

More specifically we’ll:

  • Learn about funicular forms and how ropes and cables resist tension.
  • Discuss how columns, arches, and anti-funicular forms resist compression.
  • Discover how trusses, beams and walls resist loads. • Sketch the flow of forces through structures.
  • Compare and contrast different structural forms and systems to answer a range of questions such as: Why might an engineer choose a beam over a truss? How do the dimensions of a structure affect its response? How do engineers choose forms and systems to create structures that are both elegant and functional?

Join us in exploring the engineering of structures around us.

The main course image, Kurilpa Bridge credited to: Alastair Smith, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Taught by

Vicki May


4.3 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at edX based on 7 ratings

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  • complex structural engineering concepts while showcasing remarkable real-world examples. It's accessible, engaging, and highlights the importance of sustainability in engineering. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the fascinating world of structural design.
  • This course provides some basic but very valuable introduction to structural mechanics, mainly applied to architectural structures (buildings, bridges...) Just perfect for those with no prior knowledge who want to understand how engineering structures are designed to resist loads, and how these behave under applied loads of various sorts.

    The proposed material is very diverse: lectures, illustrative videos, simulator to play with concepts, calculations (very basic maths), hands-on activities, forum discussions...

    The course team is very engaging and provides extremely clear explanations. The teaching method is excellent!

    A course I definitely recommend for the above-discussed purpose!
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