Texas A&M visualization science professors Don House and
Vinod Srinivasan are collaborating with A&M civil engineering
faculty to develop a visualization/simulation tool that will
allow engineering students to observe the dynamic load performance
of mechanical models.
The study, "Multiple Models for Civil Engineering Dynamics," is
funded by a two-year, $125,000 National Science Foundation educational
research grant. The A&M team’s proposal was one of
70 to receive NSF funding out of 844 submitted this year to the
NSF’s Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI)
The civil engineering faculty working with House and Srinivasan
are James Morgan (PI), Luciana Barossa, and Giovanna Biscontin.
They teach a course in building systems in which students study
the dynamic performance of building structures.
“We are developing an interactive simulation/visualization
tool to be used in the classroom to teach students concepts of
dynamics,” explained Srinivasan. “This is not just
a simulation software but an educational software, intended to
be used by both instructors and students. Users will be able
to create a schematic of a mechanical system, tweak and measure
various parameters and simulate the performance of the system
under various load conditions.”
The goal of the project, said Srinivasan, is to enhance student
learning and understanding of the concepts related to dynamic
behavior of buildings.
“The word ‘dynamic’ implies motion or movement,” added
House. “Static analysis can determine if a structure is
strong enough to handle a given load, dynamic analysis can tell
how the building might perform in wind, earthquakes, or any situation
that would induce motion.”
Though the portion of the project that House and Srinivasan
are working on deals with virtual models, the proposal also includes
funding for creating actual physical models to be used in conjunction
with the software.
“The models are simplified versions of actual real-world
structures or systems,” Srinivasan said. “One of
the goals of the project’s visualization component is to
be able to link different parts of the schematic representations
to the real object models.
This is a “Phase I” NSF grant for pilot projects.
If the results are favorable, the researchers will be eligible
to apply for Phase II funding, for up to $500,000 over two to
five years, and then Phase III funding, which allows up to $2
million over three to five years.
“We will definitely be submitting proposals for subsequent
phases,” said Srinivasan.