Hi all! As we come to a close of the last week of the semester, we have celebrated, as any Civil Engineers would, by breaking beams in Fritz Lab. Today, the two teams (undergraduate and graduate) who had the best beam designs in the class tested their beams. We were all there to watch what happened when the beam was loaded to failure, and it was honestly very cool. I have posted some pictures from today – the three students standing next to their beam are the undergraduate students with the best design. After almost an hour of loading, the beam failed and the results are in the picture below. There are several ways that a beam can fail; in this case, it failed by “crushing” (the top flange was the component to fail first under the applied load). Before the beam failed, cracks started to form within the web (aka the skinny, middle part of the beam) and the cracking process started to get rather loud. When the beam failed, there was a loud “boom” and the beam exploded, leaving only the steel strands in the middle.
It was awesome to be able to actually experience what that kind of failure in a beam is like. A lot of my struggle in engineering classes occurs when I cannot visualize what I am supposed to be solving for. I, along with many others, am a highly visual learner, so I really appreciate the opportunity to see what actually happens in real-life applications of engineering.