3.032 | Fall 2007 | Undergraduate

Mechanical Behavior of Materials


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 1 session / week, 4 hours / session


Here we will learn about the mechanical behavior of structures and materials, from the continuum description of properties to the atomistic and molecular mechanisms that confer those properties to all materials. We will cover elastic and plastic deformation, creep, and fracture of materials including crystalline and amorphous metals, ceramics, and (bio)polymers, and will focus on the design and processing of materials from the atomic to the macroscale to achieve desired mechanical behavior. Integrated laboratories provide the opportunity to explore these concepts through hands-on experiments including instrumentation of pressure vessels, visualization of atomistic deformation in bubble rafts, nanoindentation, and uniaxial mechanical testing, as well as writing assignments to communicate these findings to either general scientific or nontechnical audiences.

Laboratory Experiments

Labs are conducted in groups and written up individually. The first recitation will outline the lab activities and schedule in detail. In short, you will attend lab 9am-1pm on either Tuesday or Thursday of a given lab week, as indicated on the 3.032 calendar. You will attend recitation on the day (T or R) that you do not have lab that week.

Lab 1: Stress transformations and pressure vessels

Lab 2: Atomistic origin of elasticity

Lab 3: Micro and nanoscale plasticity

Lab 4: Uniaxial mechanical testing

Please arrive promptly; late arrivals receive a zero for that lab. Due to class size, participation in the other Group’s lab day is not a permissible means to make up a missed lab. Missed labs in the case of an emergency that is excused by the deans at Student Support Services will be accommodated with an alternative assignment from Prof. Vander Sande. Lab material will be included in the quizzes. In other words, don’t miss lab. You will meet your lab TA at the first 3.032 recitation, and this person will be your TA for your lab group throughout the semester. As will be discussed at the first recitation, each lab includes a short quiz at the start of the session, and an independent assignment.


Required: 3.032 Course Reader, Mechanical Behavior of Materials

Recommended Supplementary*: Hosford, W. F. Mechanical Behavior of Materials. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780521846707.

*Note: There are many texts that treat various aspects of mechanical behavior. However, these texts tend to treat either the mechanics or the materials perspectives well, rather than integrating the two. Your lecture notes provide this integration, and the Course Reader provides sufficient background material and worked examples from the “best” textbook for a specific topic. The Hosford text is recommended and heavily cited in the Course Reader, but is missing key material covered in the first third of the class.


Three quizzes (15% each) 45%
Seven problem sets 25%
Four labs 30%

Academic Honesty

We encourage you to work together on problem sets and lab analysis/discussion. However, all work turned in must be your own product, as it stands on the submission due date. What is cheating?

  • Duplication of others’ problem set solutions, figures summarizing lab data, or quiz responses is cheating.
  • Failure to cite sources of ideas and/or facts in your problem sets and laboratory written assignments is cheating.
  • Falsifying excuses for late/missing assignments or lab participation is cheating.
  • Backdating/Alteration of submitted documents and false claims that electronic files have been submitted by the due date are cheating.

A student who cheats will receive a formal letter in his/her file at the Office of Student Discipline and may be reported to the Council on Discipline. You do not need to cheat to succeed in this class!

Overall Understanding

An “A” in 3.032 means that you have shown you can understand and apply the following quote to make a positive difference with your knowledge of material mechanical behavior:

“Give me matter, and I will construct a world out of it.”

—Immanuel Kant

as quoted by Bedford and Liechti, Mechanics of Materials (2000).

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Lecture Notes