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ME 521 Mechanical Vibrations

Catalog Description

ME 521 Mechanical Vibrations (3). Prerequisite: ME 435. The theory of vibrating mechanical systems. Modeling of lumped parameter and distributed parameter systems. Free and forced vibration. Damping. Periodic and transient motion. Concept of normal modes. Multiple degree-of-freedom systems. Design applications.

Prerequisites by Topic

  1. Differential equations
  2. System dynamics


S. Rao, Mechanical Vibrations, 4th edition, Prentice Hall, 2004.


C.M. Richards, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course gives senior and graduate level Mechanical Engineering students a strong background in vibration theory and the ability to apply this knowledge to practical design and analysis problems. Use of vibration control techniques as part of the design process is emphasized, and an open-ended design project is assigned.

Topics Covered

  1. Free vibration of single degree-of-freedom systems (5 classes)
  2. Forced vibration of single degree-of-freedom-systems (7 classes)
  3. Free/forced response of two degree-of-freedom-systems (11 classes)
  4. Multiple degree-of-freedom systems (4 classes)
  5. Distributed parameter systems (9 classes)
  6. Design applications (4 classes)
  7. Examinations (2 classes and 2½ hours)

Computer Use

  1. Transient response of discrete systems
  2. Discrete system modal analysis

Laboratory Projects


Graduate Requirements

In addition to regular class assignments, graduate-level students must complete the project solo while the other students are allowed to work in groups of 2 or 3.

Class/Laboratory Schedule

Three 50 minute sessions per week devoted to lecture, discussion, and problem solving.


Homework: 10%, quizzes: 15%, exams: 30%, project: 20%, final exam: 25%.

Curriculum Criterion Contribution

Engineering science: 2 credits, engineering design: 1 credit.

Relationship to Program Outcomes

This course supports Mechanical Engineering Department B.Sc. program objectives by developing:

  • An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to identify, formulate and solve problems in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern tools necessary for the practice of mechanical engineering.

Prepared by C.M. Richards, June 2009

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