Video: get a sneak peek at TAM 252


Teaching Assistant Professor Blake Johnson and Lecturer Wayne Chang provided a guitar-string demonstration for TAM 252, Solid Mechanics Design, on February 25.

Johnson gave an up-close look at tension on a guitar string, broadcast to students through the camera on his laptop computer. Inspired by his own experiences as a MechSE student, he has often incorporated guitar strings into his lessons.

“I remember my graduating class in Engineering Mechanics was comprised of at least 25% musicians,” Johnson said. “That inspired me to make my interest in music a central part of this class, and I think it is a cool project idea to which any student in engineering can contribute, whether they are a musician or not.  And I believe they will finish the course with the sense that the principles of mechanics can be applied in whichever area their passions lie.” 

In any TAM (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics) course, it is important to keep one foot grounded in theoretical analyses and the other in physical applications. That goal is achieved in TAM 252 through visual and aural observation, a snippet of which is shown in the accompanying video.

Johnson and Chang relate concepts of axial stress and strain via more than just Hooke’s Law, but also through precise measurements using a digital camera; concepts of frequency and axial tension are observed by direct loading of a string while simultaneously hearing and measuring its fundamental frequency of vibration. Mathematical theories describing each are presented rigorously and demonstrated with undeniable clarity.  The students are then challenged to use the concepts to create something potentially marketable that works reliably and with ease.