An NSF Project Developed by University of Houston Benefits Students at University of South Alabama

Dr. G. Song, Associate Professor
Director, Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-4006
Tel: (713) 743-4525; Fax: (713) 743-4503; Email: gsong [at]


With a grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) (NSF Grant No. 0442991), Dr. Song, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Houston, developed a smart vibrating beam by utilizing the piezoceramic material, a type of smart materials. Piezoceramic material possesses the property of piezoelectricity, which describes the phenomenon of generating an electric charge in a material when subjected to a mechanical stress (direct effect), and conversely, generating a mechanical strain in response to an applied electric field. Piezoelectric ceramic material is one of the most commonly used smart materials. The property of piezoelectricity prepares piezoceramic materials being able to function as both sensors and actuators. Two piezoceramic patches, one as a sensor and the other as an actuator, are surface-bonded to the flexible beam.

This smart vibrating beam is “smart” in the sense it has the ability to sense and the ability to actuate. This experiment can perform multiple demonstrations including the phenomenon of resonance. To broaden the impact of this NSF sponsored project, Dr. Song traveled to the University of Housotn and delivered a lecture to the students who are taking ME 472 – Vibration Analysis and Synthesis on March 24, 2006. Shown in the figure below is the in-classroom demonstration of resonant vibration of the flexible beam by Dr. Song. This smart vibrating beam is designed to improve students’ learning experience via in-classroom demonstrations. An anonymous student survey after the demonstrations show that an overwhelming percentage of the class consider this experiment is “very effective” in demonstrating the resonance, the piezoceramic actuation and piezoceramic sensing. Students’ comments include “Very good for showing vibration modes,” “Would love to see more,” and “Great presentation.”


Mechanical Engineering students at University of South Alabama are observing the resonant vibration of the smart flexible beam during an in-classroom demonstration performed by Dr. Song of University of Houston.