Solid Mechanics: Truss Bridge Project
The premise of this project was to design a truss-bridge that had the greatest strength-to-weight ratio. I began by sketching and researching bridge designs, in order to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different truss bridges. Trusses are heavily employed in engineering and architecture due to their strong weight-to-strength ratio and ability to span large distances, due to the distribution of loads through compressive and tensile forces along the component members.
This bridge was modeled after a Pennsylvania truss, with modifications to reinforce areas where force was to be applied (two lines of contact from a car's wheels.)
After materials testing to determine the Young's Modulus for tension/compression in the plane of wood, as well as the failure stress of the wood, designs and data from materials testing were incorporated into SolidWorks. I ran simulations on different iterations to maximize the factor of safety and minimize displacement. These simulations also allowed me to find areas of potential weakness, that could be further addressed in future iterations.
While our bridge performed admirably, in retrospect we were constrained by our notion of having a "road." The winning group utilized I-beams and had small platforms where the force of the car could be applied. This allowed them to decrease the bridge's weight while increasing its strength and rigidity. Overall, this project was invaluable because gave me a familiarity with SolidWorks, and taught me to consider ideas that are not constrained by predisposed definitions.