3.A26 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate

Freshman Seminar: The Nature of Engineering


This page presents the projects for the Fall 2005 class, followed by a selection of project materials from previous classes.

Project Topics

During Lectures 4 and 5, students brainstormed topics for their projects. They came up with the following ideas:

Project Brainstorming List (PDF)

Student Project Presentations

Beam Bending: Wood vs. Aluminum (PDF) (Courtesy of Peden Nichols, Jing Han, and Michael Johnson. Used with permission.)

A second student project, The Growth and Strength of Trees and Palms, is not available for copyright reasons.

Projects from Previous Classes

Files are presented courtesy of the students listed, and used with permission.

The Engineering of Birds (2004)

The posters, slides and demonstrations below were made as part of a service learning freshman seminar. Service learning subjects incorporate a community service project into the academic learning experience. In this subject we prepared educations displays on engineering principles related to birds which we gave to the Boston Nature Center and the Museum of Science. Students working on the projects in Fall 2004: Drew Altschul, Javier Burgos, Tiffany Lee, Michael Obilade, Adele Schwab, Sira Sriswasdi and Joanna Tong.

  • Displays
  • Prof. Gibson’s video demonstrations

The Engineering of Trees (2003)

In 2003, we studied the mechanical principles behind trees, wood, and wood products. We investigated what limits the height of a tree, the mechanics of wood, and the wood science behind musical instruments. Students working on the projects in Fall 2003: Ellen Cappo, Will Ethridge, Yushan Kim, Brian Manley, Sean Torrez and Hanhan Wang.

  • Presentations
    • How Tall Can A Tree Grow? (PDF)
    • The Science of Laminated Wood (PDF)
  • Posters
    • How High Can A Tree Grow? (PDF - 1.0 MB)
    • The Mechanics of Glue Laminated Wood: Version 1 (PDF); Version 2 (PDF)
  • Prof. Gibson’s video demonstrations

Structures in Nature and Biomimetic Engineering (2002)

In 2002, we studied many of the structures found in nature. For example, why is grass skinny and hollow? Why are some leaves full of holes? Students working on the projects in Fall 2002: Anna Bruchez, Ed Lin, Randal Pope, Yao-Chung King and Janet Ryu.

Among the structures we studied were:

  • Plates
  • Tubes (PDF)

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005