Experimental Mechanics Laboratory

The Experimental Mechanics Laboratory has approximately 1,200 square feet and accommodates 16-24 students.  The lab is primarily used for classroom instruction and student projects. The projects range from required undergraduate class‐related projects to graduate student and faculty research.
Students learn basic mechanical testing and data acquisition practices in this lab. This includes safe experimental practices, understanding how loading, shape, and material properties affect stresses and strains, and familiarity with common laboratory protocols. Those who opt for elective or project work in the lab learn to develop a test plan and conduct appropriate experiments. Most will learn to create a representative model or prototype, specify signal conditioning for quasi‐static and/or dynamic tests, and link experimental results to product applications. Some graduates will use their experimental expertise directly. Others will use this knowledge for development of product specifications, acceptance testing criteria, or process control.

This laboratory serves:

  • MET 211 (Applied Strength of Materials)
  • MET 311 (Experimental Strength of Materials)
  • MET 313 (Applied Fluid Mechanics)
  • MET 317 (Machine Diagnostics)

Current research:
Professor Mark French and his graduate student are characterizing the various damping modes in guitar strings for guitar string manufacturer D’Addario. In a second project affiliated with the laboratory, Professor Nancy Denton and her graduate student developed a mobile data acquisition system and are obtaining continuous real‐time driveline loading data from Class 8 trucks.

Research results and application:
Past research has included the development of a wolf‐bite force meter for Wolf Park staff to measure bite forces. Many class‐based projects have been conducted to assist area companies as they address facilities and process concerns. Typically three-eight MET 317 (Machine Diagnostics) group projects per year are industry‐based.

Lab equipment:

  • Universal test machines
  • Fatigue test equipment
  • Torsion test equipment
  • Photo-elastic stress analysis equipment
  • Electronic strain gauge instrumentation
  • Vibration monitoring and analysis instrumentation
  • Balancing instrumentation
  • Sound level meter
  • Data acquisition and recording equipment
  • Oscilloscopes
  • Function generators
  • Accelerometers
  • High-speed camera
  • Infrared imager
  • Supporting computers

Outside funding and support:
Lab support for equipment has come from a number of corporations through donations. Occasionally this support has been through a research grant. Alcoa provided the funds for the laser alignment kit. PCB Piezotronics has donated many of the accelerometers, microphones, torsion sensors, and angular displacement sensors. Sentient Corporation contributed software packages required to drive the ZonicBook 68 data acquisition system as part of a research grant. IRD Mechanalysis (now part of Rockwell Automation) provided several educational demonstration test stands, accelerometers and other data collector peripherals.

Facility Location Faculty Contact Courses Taught in This Facility
Knoy 106 Nancy Denton MET 11300, MET 21100, MET 21300, MET 31700, MET 42600