Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Continuing Effort to Enhanced Learning of Mechanical Behavior of Materials via Combined Experiments and nanoHUB Simulations: Learning Modules for Sophomore MSE Students

  • Aisling Coughlan (a1), Heidi A. Diefes-Dux (a2), Kerrie A. Douglas (a2), Tanya A. Faltens (a3) and David Johnson (a1)...


This paper outlines updates to and evaluation of a learning module that incorporates a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation tool with a physical lab to introduce students to the atomic-level processes that are responsible for plastic deformation. Sophomore materials science and engineering (MSE) students at Purdue University get experience with both a physical laboratory, where they perform and analyze tensile tests of macroscopic samples, and a simulation laboratory, where they run and analyze MD simulations of tensile tests of metal nanowires. By integrating these two activities and discussing reasons for the large difference in yield stress, students may build an intuitive feel for how plastic deformation is linked across length scales


Corresponding author


Hide All
[1] Bowen, S., Engaged Learning: Are we on the same page?, Peer Review. 7/2 (2005)
[2] Lin, K.H., Holian, B.L., Germann, T.C., and Strachan, A., “Mesodynamics with implicit degrees of freedom”, Journal of Chemical Physics. 141, (2014) 64107
[3] Sakano, M.N., Tang, S., Belessiotis, A., Wood, M.A., Reeve, S., and Strachan, A. (2015), “Nanomaterial Mechanics Explorer”, retrieved December 15, 2015, from
[4] Plimpton, S., Fast Parallel Algorithms for Short-Range Molecular Dynamics, J Comp Phys, 117, (1995) 119, retrieved December 17, 2015, from
[5] Strachan, A., Palaria, A.; Zhou, Y. and Jhaveri, J. (2014), “nano-Materials Simulation Toolkit,” retrieved December 15, 2015, from (DOI: 10.4231/D3416T079).
[6] Brophy, S.P., Magana, A.J., and Strachan, A., “Lectures and simulation laboratories to improve learners’ conceptual understanding,” Advances in Engineering Education, 3(3) (2013) 1.
[7] Diefes-Dux, H.A., Coughlan, A., Johnson, D.R. and Faltens, T.A. (2015), “Students’ struggles to explain atomic behavior of metals in a tensile test lab”. Proceedings of the 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA. In Press
[8] Coughlan, A., Johnson, D.R., Faltens, T.A., Douglas, K.A., Diefes-Dux, H.A. & Strachan, A.. Enhanced Learning of Mechanical Behavior of Materials Via Combined Experiments and nanoHub Simulations: Learning Modules for Sophomore MSE students. Materials Research Society Proceedings. 1762 (2015). DOI 10.1557/opl.2015.152
[9] Coughlan, A., Erk, K.A., Johnson, D.R.; Faltens, T.A., Strachan, A. and Diefes-Dux, H.A (2015), “Tensile Testing Laboratory: Nanoscale and Macroscale Metal Samples,” retrieved December 15, 2015, from



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed