Online course

Understanding Superstructures

Discover the mechanics behind the natural and man-made structures that make up our world with this free online course.

Understanding Superstructures

Why join the course?

Despite being surrounded by both man-made and natural structures, we don’t often think about what it takes to keep them standing.

This course will introduce the mechanics of solids and structures that govern the performance of these essential structures.

Get an introduction to the mechanics of superstructures

Using everyday engineering examples you’ll explore the mechanics of structures, looking at purpose, material and form and learning how forces flow. We’ll ask and try and answer questions like: does form follow structure?

Understand stress analysis

Super structures must contend with plenty to stay standing - we’ll investigate some of these factors like stress and strain, shells, strain energy and torsion. Plus we’ll look further at how these structures are kept together, covering topics like cantilever beams; bending moments and shear forces; equilibrium and compatibility; structural hierarchy, stress concentration factors, material behaviour and fracture and fatigue.

Learn about design issues

As we’re looking at stress analysis we’ll also examine design issues that can lead to bigger problems for super structures, and find out about how structures can be designed for resilience. Finally we’ll look at the impact unknown risk can have on structures - paying attention to things like climate change and extreme events.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Form & function: purpose, material & form; how forces flow; form-finding structures; free-body diagrams; tensegrity structures.
  • Freedom & energy: degrees of freedom; definitions of deformation, strain and stress; membrane stresses; strain energy; torsion and shear stress.
  • Keeping it all together: shear forces and bending moments; flexural stress; compatibility of displacement; statically indeterminate structures.
  • Material details, an introductions to: Mohr’s circle; material response; structural materials; biological materials; stress concentrations; fracture & fatigue.
  • Risk & resilience: dynamic loading; finite element analysis; limit states; damage tolerance; residual stresses; complex systems.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Demonstrate rudimentary knowledge, understanding and skills of stress analysis
  • Summarise basic knowledge and understanding of the mechanics of structures.
  • Discuss design issues associated with structures

Who is the course for?

You don’t need any prior knowledge of this subject but you will need GCSE-level or equivalent knowledge of physics and maths.

Who will you learn with?

Eann Patterson

Engineer, educator & author. I hold the AA Griffith Chair in Structural Materials & Mechanics at the University of Liverpool. Read my blog at RealizeEngineering.Wordpress.com to find out more.

Who developed the course?

The University of Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.

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