Teaching Arches in Structural Analysis Courses Basics and Tutorials Free PDF Download Link

STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS ARCHES TEACHING
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Abstract - This paper reports on an experience carried out by the author to include the topic of Arches in a course on Structural Analysis II.  The paper shows that the most popular textbooks do not address the topic, by considering the number of pages dedicated to arches.

A strategy was implemented in which the instructor motivated the students to investigate about arches, with emphasis on their structural importance, their historical importance, their present day importance, and their esthetic importance.

The students carried out projects in which the arches were analyzed by means of frame elements. The five structural themes were the numerical modeling of arches using frame elements, analysis of Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, arch-supported bridge, and arch-suspended bridge. The evaluation of the experience was based on a questionnaire and showed highly positive results.

INTRODUCTION
Arch structures have a double feature in terms of civil engineering education: On the one hand, they have been used throughout the history of architecture as a main structural component. This is also true of present day construction, in which arches play a major role in the design of bridges, some building types, and other structures.

On the other hand, they are neglected by the civil engineering curricula throughout the nation. Arch structures could (and should) be taught in Structural Analysis, a course that is obligatory in all civil engineering programs.

In some schools there are two Structural Analysis courses (at the University of Puerto Rico they are INCI 4021 and INCI 4022, with a total of 6 credits), while other schools teach one course with 3 or 4 credits. First, this paper contains a review of 20 books on structural analysis, in order to show that an average of only 2% of the texts is dedicated to arches.

Second, the paper illustrates the arguments used by this instructor to highlight the historic and contemporary importance of arches in real structures. Having established the importance of this neglected topic, the paper reports on strategies to insert the analysis of arch structures by modeling them use frame elements.

ARCHES IN STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS BOOKS
The first stage in this work was the identification of what topics about arches were covered in textbooks on structural analysis, at least those more commonly used in civil engineering courses in the USA. A list of books is given in the appendix, including the identification of the book  (title, authors, publishing house and year of publication), the coverage of arches (pages dedicated to arches, total number of pages, the ratio of arch pages to total number), and some comments about what special contents were covered (for example, only isostatic problems, only a definition of arch is given, the cover page of the book has an arch, etc.).

The total number of pages in each book excludes Appendix, Bibliography, Index. The pages dedicated to arches include pages in which arches are mentioned. A total of 21 books were examined. In 8 books there was no mention of arches, and in 4 other cases the number of pages was less than 1% of the total number in the book. In 6cases the pages of arches were between 1 and 2%. In 3 cases the book dedicated between 2 and 5% to arches, although mainly to isostatic arches.

The main conclusion is that arches are not covered in any detail in structural analysis books, for reasons that are not explained in the books.

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