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Lo-Fi(Delity) Simulations of Dynamics for Hi-Fi(Delity) Understanding


This Learning Enhancement project has been funded through the HEA and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

PROJECT TITLE: Lo-Fi(Delity) Simulations of Dynamics for Hi-Fi(Delity) Understanding 
MODULE NAME: Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Civil Engineering
COLLABORATORS: Dr Kevin Nolan and Dr Aidan Lee
STUDENT COHORT: Undergraduate & Postgraduate Part Time & Full Time students.


Classical Mechanics was the undisputed Crown Jewel of Physics until the advent of its quantum counterpart. It has been a major driver in developing modern engineering, with probably the maximum influence in Mechanical Engineering. We have come a long way on the shoulders of giants – right from Aristotle, Bramhagupta, Aryabhatta, Ibn-Sina, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke and Albert Einstein to William Rowan Hamilton, Joseph Louis Lagrange and Henri Poincaré. It is probably an understatement to say that the alumni list on this subject is stellar.

Contemporary Needs/Opportunities
Recent developments in fluid dynamics (microfluidics, turbulence), soft matter, nonlinear and continuum dynamics and new materials/designs/systems along with computing abilities and sensors have rapidly expanded both theoretical and application scope of Classical Mechanics.

Irish Context
In Ireland, UCD alone has close and active links with the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. Mechanics is a key vertical in the UCD Schools of Engineering but suffers from inadequate adaptation/assimilation of several contemporary topics and applications critical to engaging with this subject in 21st century.

Overarching Impact
This project attempts to replicate pedagogical insights to nonlinear dynamical systems through simulations and physical models.



  1. Initiation of a repository of interactive experimental demonstrations of insights to Classical Mechanics.
  2. Supporting a sustained culture of research projects for teaching.
  3. Developing a UDL-led pedagogical development and implementation in the engineering curriculum.
  4. Community involvement and outreach through targeted events.
  5. An internship report on the teaching and learning changes on Classical Mechanics through the design.
  6. Engagement of UCD’s industrial contacts through “adopt an experiment” approach for industrial partners.
  7. Linkage of developed teaching tools with existing National and EU projects in the UCD Schools of Engineering.
  8. Identification of future EU funding on T&L around the funded topic.
  9. Eventual application for Teaching Awards at a national level.
  10. Documentation on developed interactive tools.

The Innovative Approach

The project demonstrated how low-fidelity models can often be adequate in providing deep insights towards nonlinear dynamical systems and their behaviour. We demonstrated how this can be used for teaching and learning, especially during a pandemic situation (originally this was not anticipated) how such method can scaffold pedagogic needs to create physical models and how simulation can address it in some way. This also demonstrated how such models can act as a design for physical tests. Through physics tests, we demonstrated how such predictions of behaviours can be validated, how numerical artifacts can be detected and what the limitations of low-fidelity models are with respect to high-fidelity models with high computational demand. We demonstrated the findings in various conferences and continue to do so focusing on the innovation of the project.

Equipment and Materials:

  • Electrodynamic shaker (permanent magnet type) with data acquisition platform. System 6000 software and Lab View software
  • Matlab, Python
  • High resolution high speed camera
  • Lab technician (for Health and Safety alignment), workshop for fabricating experiments
  • Physical materials to fabricate experiments
  • Laser cutting device
  • Covid19 protocol of working and support
  • In-house training of Bullet physics engine (open access) and Blender
  • Exposure to various research groups around the world and presentations
  • Scientific writing and presentation


Below are the results corresponding to list of project goals:

  1. Repository.
  2. New set of simulations and physical test for nonlinear mechanics teaching.
  3. Effective new material for UDL-led teaching examples: discussion presented in Penn State organised UN SDG implementation alignment in T&L on how we start with the more fundamental aspects with UDL and then continue with project based examples later. Vikram Pakrashi has UDL badge and is a facilitator this year in UDL where this project will be used in UCD.
  4. Involved UCD community through UCD Agile poster demonstrating how we reacted to the Covid19 needs through the project. Involved international community by presenting in different conferences.
  5. The intern added and evolved the work through detailed report as uploaded in Github.
  6. Establishment of UCD Centre for Mechanics but engagement with industry not yet done to adopt an experiment. Delay due to Covid19 but over 2021 summer, a UCD ‘Walk’ on mechanics (with QR codes along the paths) is being created.
  7. Linked developed outcomes with the following national and international projects: a) DTIF SEMPRE Project (to start soon – with vibro-impact experiments being important) b) Neuro-SHM (on edge computing) and c) SIRMA project on monitoring of rail infrastructure in innovative ways
  8. UCD to lead a Marie Curie ITN on dynamics in 2021. There are SFI projects on T&L as well.
  9. Did not apply for National Teaching Award (but project lead did receive a best teaching lab award in 2020 at Irish Lab Awards). The project lead established UCD Centre for Mechanics during this time where the work created here will be extremely relevant.
  10. See Github.


  1. Two journal papers being written involving the discoveries of this project
  2. The results of the observed internal resonance in the oscillating Galton board were presented at the Internal Conference on Engineering Vibration 2020, hosted by University of Aberdeen on 15 December 2020.
  3. For the video competition, This is Engineering 2021, held by National University of Ireland Galway in collaboration with Engineers Ireland on 16 March 2021, the student created a video to inform 5th and 6th year secondary school students on what mechanical engineering involves, which included some content from this project. See the video that won second prize.
  4. The overall results and progress of the project were presented at a poster session at Work Smarter Together 2021, hosted by University College Dublin on 8 March 2021.
  5. These project results were presented at All Ireland Conference on Undergraduate Research 2021, hosted by University of Limerick on 24 March 2021.


View project slides for more information.
To access files needed to conduct simulation of nonlinear and chaotic dynamics please visit Github.