weights hanging from a chain

Lab 1: Stress in Tensile and Compressive Structures

There are three stations for this lab:

  • Cable Strength –explores the breaking strength of steel.
  • The Washington Monument – shows how the principles learned with respect to tensile forces in the Cable Strength lab also apply to compressive structures such as the Washington Monument
  • Cable and Arch Shape – demonstrates that the proper shape for a cable structure when under uniform loading is a parabola. It will then show the extent to which cables and arches can be considered equivalent structures, with one acting in tension and the other compression
    Download Lab Procedures Download Lab Report Guidelines

student typing at a computer

Lab 2: Bridges – Suspension and Horizontal Cantilever

The lab will involve the study of two bridges:




a press, deforming a length of metal

Lab 3: Steel Reinforced Concrete

The purpose of this lab is to test and analyze the structural and strength properties of concrete and reinforced concrete beams. This lab is to be performed over two sessions:

a model tower

Lab 4: Tall Buildings: Columns and Cantilevers

Through the examples of the Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument, this laboratory will demonstrate how tall structures are affected by their own dead load and the live load of the wind.

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various vaulted models

Lab 5: Designing for Strength and Elegance

Design competitions are catalysts for structural art. Winning proposals highlight the two principles of design – discipline and play. Discipline is defined by the necessity to meet certain spatial, economic and strength requirements. Play is produced by the innovation that improves a good design into a winning design. In this (multiple-day) lab, you will work in groups to produce the following two designs that will be tested to failure and judged for strength and aesthetics:

(1) a foot-long bridge

Download Lab Procedures Download Combined Lab Report Guidelines

(2) a form-found shell structure

Download Lab Procedures


a cardboard model

Lab 6: Wind Effects on Tall Buildings

Using a wind tunnel, the effects that differently shaped buildings have on vortex shedding are examined.

This lab is under development. If you are interested in obtaining draft construction drawings for the wind tunnel, please contact Maria Garlock.