The Engineering Mechanics Laboratory is primarily dedicated to support of the freshmen Mechanical Engineering course of the same name. This course examines classical Newtonian mechanics from a calculus-based fundamental perspective with close coupling to integrated laboratory experiences. Topics include kinematics; Newton's laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; and oscillations and gravitation within the context of mechanical engineering, using mechanical engineering conventions and nomenclature. Each topic is reviewed in lecture, and then thoroughly studied in multiple accompanying laboratory sessions. Students conduct experiments using modern data acquisition technology; and analyze, interpret, and present the results using modern computer software. John Wellin manages this lab.
Configured as a studio-style classroom, the laboratory space consists of ten identical workstations outfitted with all of the equipment required to perform the experiments for the course. Each station has a dedicated computer; an ultrasonic distance sensor from Senix; a basic data acquisition device from National Instruments, which is accessed through custom programs created in LabVIEW; video capture capabilities for motion analysis; a digital inclinometer; a custom-designed and fabricated framework for supporting all of the experimental hardware, based on the aluminum extrusions and fittings manufactured by 8020 Inc.; custom-designed and fabricated miniature cars with ball bearing wheels for momentum and energy experiments, with custom tracks; a custom pendulum assembly, with optical encoder and computer interface from US Digital; a custom centripetal force apparatus; and various other pieces fabricated in-house in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop.