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The Engineering of Structures Around Us

Explore how engineers design bridges and buildings in our communities and iconic structures around the world.

There is one session available:

17,649 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Oct 18
Ends Dec 31
Estimated 5 weeks
3–6 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

In this introductory course, you’ll learn some engineering principles that can be applied to structural systems everywhere: in nature, in furniture, in mechanical and aerospace systems, and in any solid object that resists a load.

Together we’ll explore how structures work, why they were designed the way they were designed, how they support loads, and where forces flow through them.

More specifically we’ll:

  • Learn about funicular forms and how ropes and cables resist tension.
  • Discuss how columns, arches, and anti-funicular forms resist compression.
  • Discover how trusses, beams and walls resist loads. • Sketch the flow of forces through structures.
  • Compare and contrast different structural forms and systems to answer a range of questions such as: Why might an engineer choose a beam over a truss? How do the dimensions of a structure affect its response? How do engineers choose forms and systems to create structures that are both elegant and functional?

Join us in exploring the engineering of structures around us.

The main course image, Kurilpa Bridge credited to: Alastair Smith, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

At a glance

  • Institution: DartmouthX
  • Subject: Engineering
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:
    • High school algebra
    • High school geometry
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How and why the world's structures (including structures in the natural and biological world) were designed and constructed the way they were​
  • To conceptually design and build prototypes of structures
  • That engineering goes beyond math and science and involves much creativity and innovation
  • To identify and compare structural elements, forms, and systems
  • To describe the loads expected on a structure and the resulting flow of forces through the structure

Learner testimonials

Skip Learner testimonials

"Very nice course and inspiring for all. I learned new things about places across human expedition with structures small and large. Those hands on activities are great to think and be engage with further creativity." J.V. on Coursetalk

"This is a fantastic course. I never knew I could learn so much in just a few weeks! Videos are high quality and material is very well thought out. You do not need much of prior experience and it is amazing how much of it is just self explanatory, and yet counter intuitive. I had many "how did I not know this" moments." student on Coursetalk

" In two words: awesome course! Depth and clarity of the topics discussed .. Explanations, videos, simulations, tests, actviities, digital enviorement." student on Coursetalk

About the instructors

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