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The goal is to develop a simple inventory to measure mastery of fundamental strength of materials (SOM) concepts such as stress, strain and buckling. Students are first introduced to these concepts in a sophomore-level Strength of Materials course (also called Mechanics of Materials). Follow-on courses such as Structural Analysis in civil engineering or Machine Design in mechanical engineering build directly upon these concepts. Many students will not master some of the more abstract SOM concepts until completion of these follow-on courses.
The SOM Concept Inventory has been motivated by the Force Concept Inventory created by Halloun and Hestenes [1-4] and its impact on physics education. The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was designed to measure conceptual, not computational, understanding of Newtonian Mechanics. The questions are posed to focus on intuitive comprehension independent of knowledge of the terminology or numerical modeling. Following the lead of the FCI, faculty members are creating concept inventories for other disciplines. More information about concept inventories can be found in a paper by Evans and Hestenes.
Although a copy of the strength of materials inventory is not available, information about its development can be obtained by contacting either , Civil Engineering Department, University of Alabama, or , Civil Engineering Department, Texas A&M University.