Structures and Mechanics Lab

(Room 1.02 - First Floor)

Students testing tension


Engineers design structures for all kinds of purposes and at vastly different scales. This ranges from large ones (like bridges, skyscrapers or offshore wind turbines), to smaller ones (like crash helmets, micro-aerial-vehicles or even heart-stents).

In the Structures and Mechanics Laboratory we use practical teaching to support students learn how structural members and mechanical components deform under load, how to predict their failure, and what happens when they break. Students learn how loads redistribute within structures, how to experimentally measure deformations, strains and stresses, and also how to make design decisions for optimising structural and mechanical performance

All teaching within the laboratory is delivered through a set of experiments carried out on small mechanical components, latticed frameworks, soils, or on models replicating the behaviour of larger structures (e.g., suspension bridges, multi-story buildings,  and cranes). Active learning is at the heart of the lab, with the students collaborating in small groups, to conduct experiments, take measurements and analyse the collected data. As well as gaining a deeper engineering knowledge, students also develop key skills (i.e., team-working, communicating, and problem solving) and professional competencies that they will call upon throughout their future careers.

Students will learn:
  • To calculate internal forces in mechanical components.
  • To identify the load path within structures and structural members.
  • Solid mechanics:
    • To determine the stress and strain distribution in a loaded member;
    • To measure the materials deformations.
  • Engineering statics:
    • To apply the principles of equilibrium and use free body diagrams.
  • Geotechnics:
    • To characterise soils, determine their behaviour and strength.
  • Experimental mechanics:
    • To design and use experiments to validate and test theories;
    • To analyse empirical data to determine material properties;
    • To independently operate a universal testing machine;
    • To use advanced measuring techniques (e.g., DIC, Photoelasticity).
  • Structural Analysis:
    • To determine Stress-strain curves of a tested component;
    • To identify its yielding point;
    • To determine its plastic failure point.
  • To work safely and conduct experiments in a hazardous environment
  • To identify and manage experimental errors and measurement uncertainty 
  • To communicate as a professional engineer, whether verbally, written, graphically or via technical sketches.
  • Develop a range of professional skills and competencies including problem solving, team work, collaboration, and autonomy. 
  • Design, build and test model structures.
What equipment is in this Lab?
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University of Sheffield students on Undergraduate and Postgraduate-taught courses may be allowed access to use the equipment in the lab for their own research and group projects. You can contact to enquire about accessing the lab equipment. Please note that during term time the equipment may not be available.

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