Interactive Structures

The following are interactive educational tools programmed with Processing that demonstrate and automate many of the structural analysis tasks taught in university structures classes in architecture schools. The goal is to create a foundation of basic tools that allow architecture students to learn to make higher-level design decisions about structures without the burden of manual calculation. To do this, architecture students need a set of interactive tools that provide direct, quantitative feedback, much like an engineer would during a design process.

All of these applets require a Java plugin. If you're a Windows or Linux user, you can get it at this this download page or here at all Java downloads. Each tool has the source code available if you want to hack them. You must download the Processing development package to do so.


Interactive Shear and Moment Diagrams
A utility that draws and calculates shear and moment diagrams for a loading condition of your choice. Add point loads and uniformly distributed loads, change support locations and beam length, and watch the diagrams below update as you change them. It will also find a selection of steel sections appropriate for that loading condition as determined by the flexure formula only (i.e. horizontal shear stress, lateral bracing, etc. are ignored).


Moment of Inertia Painter
Paint a cross-section and this applet will determine the centroid and calculate the moment of inertia of the shape along the x and y axes through the centroid. This can be an analysis tool to teach moment of inertia as well as a design tool for learning beam design.


Vector Addition
This is the first of many applets to help with the addition of vectors. This one takes two vectors (one red and the other blue) and adds them together to obtain the resultant (violet). The angles are measured from the axis without the handle, and you can rotate the reference coordinate system by dragging the handle on the other.


Truss Builder
This applet allows you to build and analyze a statically determinant truss. Add nodes in 'Edit' mode, then click two nodes to make an element between them. You must add one roller and one pinned support, and at least one force. In 'Solve' mode, the applet colors and sizes the elements according to the internal forces. Red is compression; blue is tension. Mouse over any force or element to find the value of the force. No units are present so you can use whatever units you like.


Column Selector
This applet enables you to select columns given a length, load, and desired slenderness ratio. It distinguishes between short, intermediate, and long columns. Selection of intermediate columns is not yet supported. After inputing the load and length, move the slenderness ratio handle to get selections with a ratio in the vicinity of the ratio you select.

Copyright © 2008-9 William Martin ().