What you'll learn
In this course you’ll be introduced to an immensely powerful method of civil engineering analysis. A fundamental requirement of any civil engineer is an ability to estimate how a structure will deform and behave under load. The Principle of Virtual Work is an elegant and efficient tool that gives us that ability. Being able to look at a structure and estimate the magnitude of its deflection is a key milestone in the development of any engineering student – the aim for this course is to help you hit that milestone!
Using my experience as a senior university lecturer in structural engineering, each video lecture is structured and delivered to ensure you get the most out of your time investment. If you take this course, don’t expect to sit back and let the videos wash over you – you’ll need to actively work your way through the course, constantly comparing your developing understanding with what you learn in each lecture.
You’re strongly encouraged to develop your own notes as we move through the course…we’ll be avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint’ at all costs. The mode of presentation is predominantly through hand-drawn notes and sketches; a method universally favoured by every engineering student I’ve ever had!
In the first short section I’ll set out the plan for the course, discussing what we’ll cover and why I’ve structured the course the way I have. This is followed by a short video where I offer you some advice on maximising value from the course. Anyone familiar with my style of teaching will know what to expect here 🙂
In this section, we’ll cover some of the essential background knowledge required to proceed through the course. Basically, you need to be able to analyse statically determinate trusses to determine their internal member forces. To bring everyone up to speed, we’ll make sure you can do this by the end of this section.
In section 3, we’ll start thinking about structures as energy storage devices and how this allows us to tie together the concepts of work, energy and elastic deformation. What we’re doing in this section is laying the groundwork required to develop a solid understanding of virtual work in the next section. By the end of this section you’ll understand what we mean by strain energy and you’ll have conquered your first energy-based analysis technique.
Here we’ll introduce the Principle of Virtual Work. This should be much easier to digest after completing the previous section on strain energy. In this section, we’re simply focusing on the principle of virtual work and the building blocks required to use it in our structural analyses. For many students that struggle with virtual work, this is the missing link!
Now that you understand the Principle of Virtual Work and how it evolves out of some pretty simple ideas, we need to take it and turn it into a structural analysis technique. In this section we’ll develop the analysis strategies that you can routinely apply to pin-jointed truss structures. Understanding the material in this section is going to be key to you being able to use virtual work as an analysis technique out in the wild beyond this course.
At this point you’ve covered all of the groundwork and should have a good understanding of the theory that underpins the principle of virtual work and how it applies to structural analysis. Now it’s about practice. In this section there are five practice questions to get you started and help you confirm for yourself that you’ve understood everything we’ve worked on in this course. After successfully completing this final section, you’ll be confident in determining how one of the most common forms of civil engineering structure (trusses!) deform under load.
Who this course is for
- Engineering students who want to move beyond basic analysis techniques and determine displacements in structures under load
- Engineering students who want to get a good understanding of how to harness the Principle of Virtual Work for structural analysis
- Engineering students who have come across Virtual Work but are confused about how and why it works
- More advanced engineering students or practitioners who have covered Virtual Work methods but want a concise refresher in the underlying theory and its application
Lecture 2: Syllabus Walkthrough
Lecture 10: What is Strain Energy?
Welcome and Introduction
Quick Review of Trusses (Optional)
Pin-Jointed Structures / Trusses
Course wrap up and debrief
M K Ghanta
The way in which the instructor explained the complex and often confusing concepts of strain energy and virtual work was amazing. After taking this course you really begin to understand the power of looking at structures from the point of view of change in strain energy. This perspective of viewing structures as energy carrying devices often opens up new dimensions of your thinking and broadens your imagination. I would thank the instructor from my heart for such a lovely course. Keep up the excellent work Sean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Even if you watched the full course, if you’re not satisfied, contact me in the first 30 days and I will give you a full refund, no questions asked. It would be helpful if you could tell me how I can improve the course for other students.