In many cases a mechanical engineer has to design products with an optimum balance of weight, cost, and reliability, while ensuring the product will not deflect too much or brake apart. One tool mechanical engineers have at their disposal is the important area of solid mechanics, which is concerned with the study of motion, deflection, stress, strain, and failure of machines and structures. Further complicating this study is the variety of environmental conditions including variations of temperature and humidity and corrosive environments which machines or structures must withstand.
For example, composite materials are used in the design of space craft because of these materials' high strength to weight ratio. These composite structures must be engineered to ensure they will not fail. Complicating the problem is the great variation in the temperature the vehicle will endure. To design this structure, a mechanical engineer would have to use experimental and analytical (pen and paper) methods.
There are several tools that mechanical engineers use in solid mechanics. These methods fall into two groups, experimental and analytic. Typical experimental methods include: interferometry; strain gage analysis; photo elasticity; and cyclic loading over long period of time. Typical analytic methods include: finite element analysis, boundary element analysis, finite element analysis; elasticity methods; and strength of materials methods.
The range of solid mechanics problems mechanical engineers solve is enormous and will continue to grow in the future.
Faculty with expertise in Solid Mechanics
Research projects in Solid Mechanics
- High Thermal Conductivity Nanocomposite Encapsulants for Torpedo Nose Arrays and High Power/High Duty Cycle Acoustic Sources
- Nano-scale Surface Embrittlement of Textile Fibers
Course offerings in Solid Mechanics
- Engineering Mechanics I: Statics
- Engineering Mechanics II: Dynamics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Vibrations
- Introduction to the Finite Element Method