Smart Structures in Engineering Education


As technologies evolve, academia must follow suit to best use these technological strides to advance structures for better reliability and overall safety. One such advancement is subsumed under the title “smart structures,” which use smart materials possessing unique qualities to collectively generate an adaptive structural system. Although the smart structure concept is widely used in the mechanical and aerospace engineering industries, the civil engineering community has been slow to adopt it because of system complexity and high cost. In addition, many universities still do not include smart structures in their curricula, which has hindered their broad implementation into modern structures. This paper presents a specialized course on smart structures designed to further the use of smart technologies in engineering education and ultimately the real-world. Included in the background is a look at institutions that already provide classes on the subject and a description of how one school (i.e., Texas A&M University) organized the class, including lab demonstrations, homework, projects, and lecture outline, as well as student evaluations of the class.