Article by Linda Kaplan
The ACE Mentoring program met on December 3, 2014 at Mascaro Construction’s office for the structural engineering session. Approximately 40 students attended this session to advance the design of their museum project. Each group’s museum wing was required to have a hanging piece as part of their installation. In this session the students sized the beam needed to support that load.
The session began with an overview of structural engineering and the many different parts of this field. Following the presentation the students broke into their groups and were guided through a basic beam design based on shear and moment principles. They then used AISC shape tables to select the appropriate beam.
After everyone had completed the calculations, the students participated in a “Cardboard Beam” design competition. Each group was given one piece of 8.5x11 thin cardboard and 24” of duct tape with which to make a beam spanning 12” that could hold up a gallon of water suspended from the middle. Beams could not be solid sections and had to have a cross section under 2”x2”. Many creative designs were presented and ultimately 2 of the 9 tested were able to hold.
Read more about the ACE Mentor Program or the Pittsburgh ACE program, or contact Linda Kaplan, Karen Mueser, or Nicholle Piper for more information or to volunteer for future sessions.