 
Summary: MATH 5485 Introduction to Numerical Methods I
Fall 2007
Marcel Arndt
Lab Project: Bridge Construction
In this lab project, we investigate the static behavior of bridges built from steel trusses like the one shown
in Figure 1. When some loading is applied to the bridge, for example due to the weight of cars going over
it, the forces get distributed among all trusses. However, not all trusses will exhibit the same force, rather
some will carry more load than others, depending on the design of the bridge.
Heavily loaded trusses are more likely to fail than less loaded trusses. Hence it is of crucial importance
for bridge engineers to compute theses forces, identify possible points of failure, and reinforce the structure
where necessary to prevent catastrophes. At the same time, one wants the bridge to be as lightweight and
efficient as possible to keep material costs low. Numerical simulation allows this to be achieved without
performing extensive experiments with real bridges and therefore considerably reduces construction time
and cost.
In this lab project, you will:
· Learn about the mathematical modeling of the static behavior of truss bridges.
· Learn how to reformulate this model to make it accessible by computers.
· Learn how to implement and numerically solve the problem for a given bridge.
· Build your own bridge which provides the best load distribution and thus is safest!
This text will guide you through the whole process and provide a stepbystep instruction. Work carefully
