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Online course

Through Engineers' Eyes: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design

Learn the techniques of Engineering Mechanics, use them to interpret experiments and apply them to design.

Through Engineers' Eyes: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design

Why join the course?

When you design anything, how do you know that the design will work? You need Engineering Mechanics - the science-based analysis that engineers use to predict how their designs will perform, so they can meet their responsibilities for performance and safety.

It starts with physics - forces, equilibrium, acceleration, gravity - but then engineers adapt it to their own purposes.

In this free online course, you will learn analytical skills, use them to understand experiments, and apply them in design. You will be living in the engineer’s world.

An unusual approach to learning Engineering Mechanics

Each of the seven weeks of this course has:

  • an introduction to set the scene;
  • experiments to introduce physical reality;
  • analysis videos, paper and pencil tutorials and in some weeks on-line Adaptive Tutorials to help you develop insights and skills;
  • a design activity to give you engineering context (except Week 1);
  • and a review process to consolidate your learning.

Experiments will be a special feature. You can do them yourself using common household items such as rubber bands, paper clips, string and cardboard, a toy vehicle. Videos and downloadable instructions will guide you. We hope you’ll do some of them, but if not, you can get what you need from watching the videos.

Adaptive Tutorials will be another special feature. They provide a personalised learning experience through virtual ‘learning by doing’ activities that adapt to your progress.

Here are two examples of typical weekly activities:

  • Week 3 - the experiments and analysis will present tools for finding forces by applying equilibrium, and for the design activity you will specify the size of a bolt that acts as a pin on a fold-out frame.
  • Week 6 - the experiments will explore various types of resistance to motion, the analysis will introduce concepts of work and energy, and for the design activity, you will estimate the power requirement and range of an electric car.

A life-changing experience

On completing this course you will have:

  • learnt how to manipulate forces as vectors;
  • learnt techniques and skills in using free-body diagrams and equilibrium to analyse and predict forces;
  • understood centres of gravity, friction and various types of resistance;
  • and apply these capabilities to design.

And by living in the world of the engineer, you will see how they operate effectively and safely. You will have begun to develop “Engineers’ Eyes”.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsBefore the first rivet was hammered, they knew that this bridge could take the load. Well before the very first takeoff run, they knew that this aircraft would fly. When you design anything, how do you know beforehand that it will work? Livelihoods depend on it. Lives do too. It's an awesome responsibility. To meet it, you need to look at the world through engineers' eyes. And to get engineers' eyes, you need engineering mechanics. Engineering mechanics starts with physics-- forces, equilibrium, acceleration, gravity. This helps you to understand the world. That's Classical Mechanics. Engineers developed their own version to help them change the world, to help them design. That's Engineering Mechanics. But for engineers, it's more than that.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsEngineering Mechanics is built into their souls. It colours everything they see around them. When they look at the bridge, they think forces and bending motion. They feel stresses and strains. When they see an aeroplane fly, they visualise the lift forces that defy gravity. With just a little mathematics, in this course you'll learn some basic engineering mechanics. You'll learn by experiments, analysis, and design. And you'll start to see the world through engineers' eyes. But be prepared. Once you've opened your engineers' eyes, there's no going back. Get ready for a life-changing experience.

What topics will you cover?

  • Week 1: Static and dynamic loads
  • Week 2: Forces
  • Week 3: Twist
  • Week 4: Centres of gravity
  • Week 5: Friction
  • Week 6: Resistance to motion
  • Week 7: Impulse momentum

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 how to manipulate forces as vectors.
  • Apply techniques and skills in using free-body diagrams and equilibrium to analyse and predict forces.
  • Apply centres of gravity, friction and various types of resistance to design.

Who is the course for?

You will need elementary mathematical skills - basic algebraic manipulation and basic trigonometry. If your maths is rusty, there will be time to catch up.

You will also need access to a scientific calculator and know how to use it (many mobile phones have one -you might have to hold the basic calculator sideways to find it). Calculus is NOT required.

Who will you learn with?

Gangadhara Prusty

Gangadhara is a Professor in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at UNSW Australia and has received multiple teaching excellence awards, including Australian Awards for Teaching.

Robin Ford

I am a retired Associate Professor from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing, UNSW Australia and hold several teaching awards. I like to look for new ways of presenting Engineering Mechanics.

Who developed the course?

Established in 1949 with a unique focus on the scientific, technological and professional disciplines, UNSW is a leading Australian university committed to making a difference

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Join this course


  • Access to this course for 9 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

Upgrade - $64

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
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