Pages From My Prior Position at Valparaiso Univ.


Balsa Bridge Competition
For Statics and Mechanics of Materials, I developed a Balsa Bridge Design Competition.  The learning objectives included applying new skills to an open-ended design problem, incorporating "real world" factors in the design, developing creativity, practicing collaborative learning, improving hands-on skills, and developing their analytic abilities via feedback from testing of their product.  Both classes used the same basic rules and design envelope. Statics students built trusses; Mechanics of Materials students built beams.  The goal was to maximize the ratio of  Load / (Cost and Weight).   The design envelope allowed students to pick amongst 5 foundation points to both encourage creativity and avoid obvious solutions.  I competed against the students with restricted rules--if the class average performance was 50% or better of my own, the entire class got extra credit.  This encouraged collaborative learning as they were collectively competing against me as opposed to each other.  In the first year, a typical truss bridge held ~200 lbs and weighed ~0.2 lbs.  In the second year, truss bridges typically supported 400-600 lbs at similar weights.   Beam bridges held roughly twice that, but with more weight.  Students were highly engaged in the projects, probably reflecting the desire in many, myself included, to create and practice what they have learned. 

Introduction to Biomechanics Talk
This talk was given to the Valpo ASME student section meeting, as well as the Pre-Med colloquium. 

Technical Report Writing Guidelines
I prepared this document for the Materials Science Labs, to assist students in writing professional and concise reports.

Questions welcome --