Mechanics of constructions

Holders: Assist. Prof. Halilovič Miroslav, Assoc. Prof. Mole Nikolaj

Subject description


For the on-going work and understanding of the subject basic knowledge of the following courses is needed:

  • Mathematics 1 and 2
  • Statics
  • Strength of Materials

Coursework, on-going work and passing the course: The course consists of lectures (3h/week) and tutorials (2h/week). Lectures: a new topic is presented and discussed weekly. Tutorials: on-going work is expected. A short test (approximately 30 minutes) is taken weekly. All the practical/numerical basis that are required for the tests are given in advance in the form of videolectures. Videos are in Slovene language with English subtitles. Passing the course: the final mark consists of the assessment of the theory and assessment of the practical part (tutorials). The assessment of the theory is performed by oral examination. A set of possible questions for the theory is given by the professor at the end of the semester. The assessment of tutorials is obtained from short tests that are taken weekly on tutorials.

Acquired knowledge:

The course is intended for all students who want to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge on dealing with structural elements (rods, beams, shafts, plates, shells and membranes). Students also get an overview of possible ways to solve such problems (we present analytical ways of solving, finite difference and finite element methods) and learn how to program and design their own algorithms for solving and dealing with structural elements. Practical work (tutorials) is performed in the programming language Wolfram Mathematica. Pre-knowledge of programming or working with Wolfram Mathematica is not expected.

Content (Syllabus outline):

The aim of the subject is to characterize the mechanical response of structural elements and present the calculation methods for determining their response. Namely, calculations of real constructions are normally performed by decomposing a construction into several structural elements. In this process, certain assumptions need to be adopted and it is crucial that all assumptions are valid for the elaborated case. We will study basic theories of structural mechanics and present typical examples of individual structural elements and will see how the computational models match the experimentally measured response of structural elements.

The course covers the following topics: basics of continuum mechanics (displacements, strains, stresses), a definition of the boundary value problem in elastostatics (a problem domain, basic equations and boundary conditions), a definition of structural elements according to their geometric dimension (frame, plane and three dimensional structures) and according to their curvature (straight/curved beams, plate/wall/ shell).

We will present the theoretical background of frame elements, shafts, membranes, plates and shells, and discuss the mechanical response that is provided by different theories, e.g. Bernoulli/Timoshenko, Kirchhoff/Mindlin-Reissner etc.

We will also learn how to compute the response of structural elements using analytical and numerical methods (the finite difference and the finite element methods). All computations will be performed in Wolfram Mathematica.

We will also present the concept of geometrical symmetry and structure periodicity – axial and planar symmetry, and planar and cyclic periodicity; the referential subdomain concept; the division of external loads to the symmetric and the antisymmetric part; present the properties of vector and tensor response fields for the symmetric/asymmetric and periodic load case.

Response of students to the course:

Despite relatively demanding theoretical and mathematical topics, the course is very well accepted by the students.

Based on the students' surveys, it is one of the highest graded courses with a grade 4.8 (out of 5.0).*

Below we present some comments given by students in the students' survey**:

  • By far the most useful course – I had the luck that I chose it as an elective course because I am a designer. This would be anappropriate course for all designers, and I think that we obtained a good basis for the Computational Analysis of Structures course. I learned a lot from videolectures, I could not absorb so much knowledge in classroom tutorials.
  • Very good assistants and professor. Among the best at the faculty, at least as far as pedagogical work is concerned. Very accessible and friendly and not sublime. I like the videolectures system and on-going tests, although it's a lot of work, more than if you did all on tutorials. But it is the advantage of videolectures that you can calmly study the topics by yourself and that you can look at explanations later.
  • Excellent consistency of classroom tutorials (practical part) and lectures – the course is practically (real-life) oriented.
  • Both the professor and assistants always take additional time for questions or further explanations.
  • Very interesting course, understandable lectures. The performace of the course is excellent, it prepares you for the on-going work. More of such courses.


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