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Seeing is believing for University of Wisconsin-Madison students using Adams in their 'Kinematics and Dynamics of Machine Systems' course

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In the ME 451 class at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Professor Dan Negrut and his graduate teaching assistant, Makarand Datar, have incorporated Adams to help reinforce the fundamental principles and theory they cover in that class.

To describe his leadership role with the Simulation-Based Engineering Laboratory (SBEL) in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wisconsin, Dan said "All of the work we do in our SBEL looks at how things change in time, whether it is a molecular dynamics problem or simulation of a truck. ADAMS is a very useful and extremely versatile simulation environment for problems at the macroscale. We have used ADAMS for things like track simulation, vehicle dynamics simulation, and driver-vehicle-powertrain-tire-road co-simulation."

Dynamic simulation of tracked vehicle over rough terrain Simulation of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV)

Adams is broadly useful - from undergraduate classroom work up through graduate level research. Having experience with Adams will enable our UW engineering students to hit the ground running when they go to work in industry and are expected to use simulation software to aid the virtual product development (VPD) process at their companies.

The feedback from students was very encouraging as evidenced through the following representative quotes:

  • "ADAMS was very nice to work with"
  • "I will forever have a greater understanding and appreciation of dynamics-related fields and appreciate the instruction I received in ADAMS."
  • "Learning the use of MATLAB and ADAMS has really helped understand the practical and industrial relevance of the subject."

According to Makarand, "The instructional materials and homework assignments enable students to ease into Adams gradually, following an effective Crawl-Walk-Run approach. We started with very basic simulations of a stone falling under gravity or a simple pendulum. Students were asked to perform hand calculations and verify their answers using Adams. By the end of this course, students reached a level where they were able to simulate a complex mechanical system such as an excavator, a human walker, etc."

"It's important to understand the primary emphasis of this course is not to teach Adams. In fact, this was the first time Adams was used as a simulation tool in this course. It was not possible to spend a lot of time on Adams. However it was amazing to see what students could do at the end of it all."

The homework developed for this course was designed to give students a better visual appreciation of dynamic systems. There were in-class demonstrations of some complex mechanisms modeled using Adams so students could understand the scope of this tool. Students were encouraged to verify their results using other tools such as MATLAB which adds to the learning experience.

Overall it was a very successful endeavor and was a good start for introducing Adams in the engineering curriculum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For additional information, we invite you to read more about our SBEL projects and publications.

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Dan Negrut,
Makarand Datar,
graduate teaching assistant

Editor's Note: Professor Negrut has graciously agreed to share the materials he developed for his "ME451: Kinematics and Dynamics of Machine Systems" course, complete with lecture notes as well as Adams tutorial and assignments: