Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM 4501: Aerospace Structures

Catalog Description



AEM 4501

Aerospace Structures

3 Credits


Catalog Description:


Advanced strength of materials analysis of elastic structures with aerospace applications. Failure modes and criteria, buckling, matrix methods for analysis, plane truss design. Energy and Castigliano methods for statically determinate and indeterminate structures. Torsion and bending of asymmetrical thin-walled sections. Design project.


Course Web Address:


Prerequisites by Topic:


1.      Deformable Body Mechanics (AEM 3031)




Mechanics of Materials, 8th edition, Gere and Goodno, 2006, Cengage, ISBN: 9781111577735;


Optional: Advanced Strength and Applied Elasticity, 4th Edition, Urgural and Fenster, Prentice Hall


Format of Course:


3 hours of lecture per week


Computer Usage:


A computer program for calculations of forces and deflections of trusses, TrussSolver, is available on the web at


Course Objectives:


The objective for this course is to develop an ability to analyze structures that arise in aerospace applications. The students are introduced to structural design through a design project involving an aerospace truss.


Course Outcomes:


Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate the following outcomes

by tests, homework, and design reports


  1. A knowledge of different failure criterion and an ability to predict failure given the stress state of a body.
  2. An ability to calculate the critical load for buckling of a beam with different support conditions.
  3. An ability to use matrix methods to formulate and solve truss problems.
  4. An ability to apply energy methods to structural analysis and to use these methods for statically indeterminate systems.
  5. A knowledge of the fundamental equations of linear elasticity.
  6. An ability to compute bending stresses and deflections for beams with asymmetric cross sections.
  7. An ability to compute shear stresses and twist angles in torsion for solid sections, closed thin-walled sections and open thin-walled sections.
  8. An understanding of the shear center of a beam and an ability to predict its location.
  9. An understanding of the fundamental frequencies and associated modes of a vibrating beam.


Relationship of course to program objectives:


This course includes topics in structural mechanics and analysis needed in aerospace engineering.


Relationship of course to program outcomes:


This course provides the following outcomes:


  1. Apply mathematics
  2. System design
  3. Identify engineering problems
  4. Engineering tools
  5. Materials
  6. Structures
  7. Space structures


Direct Measures


Outcome:  Space Structures


Performance Criteria:  Demonstrate the ability to design or analyze a space structure.


Assessment Method: Homework or design project.


Outcome:  System Design, Engineering Tools


Performance Criteria:  Students demonstrate that they can design a structure to meet specific performance criteria using a computer program.


Assessment Method:  Design Project


Course Outline:


(Hrs, approx.)



Review of statics, Deformable body mechanics


Beam buckling and Failure criteria


Elastic trusses


Matrix methods and design


Energy methods


Introduction to linear elasticity


Torsion of solid sections


Bending of beams with asymmetric cross sections


Torsion of thin-walled beams


Shear centers


Vibrations of beams


Outcome Measurement:


Outcomes will be measured through homework, exams, design project and a final exam.




The go-no-go for this course is the design project, which must be passed in order for the course to be passed.


Student Survey Questions:


This course improved by ability to do the following:


  1. Apply knowledge of math, science and engineering.
  2. Identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.


Please answer the following questions regarding the course:


  1. The level of work required in the course was appropriate for the credit given.
  2. My mathematical background for the course was adequate.
  3. The amount of time spent on theory and on problem solving was appropriate.
  4. My background in deformable body mechanics was adequate.
  5. The course strengthened my overall understanding of deformable body mechanics.
  6. The design project was appropriate for the course.
  7. The computer program(s) in the course were adequate.


In the course, I acquired the following:


  1. A knowledge of different failure criteria and an ability to apply them.
  2. An ability to use matrix methods for truss problems.
  3. An ability to use energy methods to calculate deflections for determinate and indeterminate structures.
  4. An understanding of the torsional rigidity of non-circular shafts.
  5. An ability to compute stresses, deflections and shear centers in asymmetric beams in bending.


Last modified:




Last Modified: 2007-07-24 at 10:04:45 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation