Matrix Structural Analysis

Terms: Fall 2019

Course Content: Computer structural analysis, direct stiffness applied to two- and three-dimensional frames and trusses, matrix force method, nonlinear problems, introduction to material and geometric nonlinearity, P-delta effects, large displacement analysis, corotational transformation, buckling of trusses and frames, introduction to finite element analysis.

Students’ comments from the course evaluations regarding the course:

“After three full years at Mcgill University, this course is the only one where I feel that I learned something. The department should revise their whole courses which should all be given like this class. I can’t believe that It is the only class where I am actually learning something.”

“This course covered a lot of new, in–depth material. It also helped me further my understanding of concepts I had learned in previous courses.”

“In my opinion, if I were to take only one structural engineering tech comp I would take this one because this course deals with the underlying concepts of a lot of structural courses like steel design, it really makes me appreciate more other structural courses.”

“I think this course definitely has a higher workload than other tech comps, I would consider steel as one of the harder tech comps, however after taking this course together with steel, I feel like this is definitely the hardest tech comp (requires more work) I took, if this course is split into two while adding more materials, I think a lot of people would be interested in taking them.”

Students’ comments from the course evaluations regarding the instructor:

“Dr. Akcelyan is the best teacher I have seen; I feel like he is the only one who knows how to teach. his method makes you work way harder than any other class. I am learning real concepts and ideas to become a better engineer later. Not like my other classes where I learn useless and meaningless proofs. His method of teaching should be the same for all classes. I was about to change my career path before meeting him, I didn’t want to be a civil engineer anymore because for the past years I have not been enjoying my degree.”

“Sarven is a very passionate instructor who cares a lot not only about the subject matter but also about his students. He is genuinely invested in furthering his students’ knowledge and understanding and does not take the easy way out by enabling us with easy tests and assignments. He challenges us to rise to a higher level of learning, which is a very valuable characteristic in a professor. I would have liked to had been taught by Sarven for more fundamental courses earlier in my degree so that I could have established a stronger foundation.”

“Dr. Akcelyan is really passionate about structural analysis and it truly influences students to become interested as well, on top of that, he genuinely cares about students and devote extra work to make sure we learn well. He challenges us frequently, which makes us more motivated to learn. I really appreciate all the effort he put into teaching this course.”

“Sarven is a professor who is clearly very motivated to provide a challenging environment which fosters the most learning for his students. His lecture material was difficult, as it should have been, but as a professor he was always willing to answer any questions and tried his best to make sure that students were on the same page.”

“The instructor is an extremely genuine, kind, helpful and understanding. However, his exceptions of students are way too high. The quality of this course could have tremendously improved if the professor would have taught less material and provided more practice.”

“Sarven is a good teacher in the sense that he cares about the progress of individual students. As a student, I can see that Sarven is knowledgeable and has a passion for the material. This makes the course somewhat less boring as I get excited when I see
Sarven is excited. One of the best professors I have had in this regard. Ironically, I have found close to none of the professors at McGill are passionate about teaching students, but that is another issue entirely. 10/10 for Sarven in this regard. Where I begin to dislike Sarven’s teaching methods is in the preparation for exams and the exam itself. Sarven provides little to no practice problems that can effectively replicate the difficulty or format of the examination. All students learn differently, and for some students learning by doing is more effective than learning by listening. You cannot find any of the problems he assigns in the textbook, he will modify them or combine two different topics in one problem. In addition to that, there is barely enough time to actually do the examination if the proper procedures are followed. If you take shortcuts, memorize the stiffness formulas, and omit work you can finish the examination on time or well ahead of time. The problem is this is quite risky because if you make a mistake you can’t retrace your steps. Sarven does compensate for the difficulty of the exams by allowing the students to provide corrections for bonus marks. The assignments are quite unreasonable and challenging, but they are done in groups so the work is split up. It’s a good opportunity to learn MATLAB and SAP2000 but also a huge time investment. The difficulty of the problems is reasonable, what is unreasonable is the quantity.”

“He would rather have us understand concepts than memorizing algorithms, which is harder at times, but the knowledge will be based on a firm foundation. He likes to have us think outside the box and combine knowledge from different structural courses together, and it ties really well and made us appreciate other courses more as well. He also included SAP2000 and MATLAB in the course, which is a really good learning experience, and made us more competent in the structural engineering field.”

“Sarven is an excellent instructor and I am glad that I had the experience of being taught by him during my time at McGill.”