Engineering Statics



Due to protests lectures & tutorials on 19 & 20 Oct 2015 have been cancelled. Please go over the relevant parts of the course text. Tut 13 is in Resources on the Vula page for this course. Pre-exam consultation times will be announced.

Spare handouts:
In the wire tray in the corridor outside M312

For questions, please use the Vula Chat,
not email to the lecturer,
so everyone can see the answers.

Pre-Exam Consultation:
Tue 2015/11/10, 10-12 am, M310
Wed 2015/11/11, 10-12 am, MAM Hotseat
Thu 2015/11/12, 10-12 am, M310


Lectures, Tutorials: [Top]
Lectures:       4th Period (11:00)
Monday,   Tuesday,   Wednesday,   Friday
Surnames: A - Md Menzies 9    Menzies building E Fredericks
Surnames: Me - Z James B    Physics building C Hellaby
Lecturer Image
Charles Hellaby
Lecturer Image
Ebrahim Fredericks

Tutorials:       14:00 - 16:00 (2 full hours)

Day Who Venue
Mechanical, Elec-Mech, Other
Allocations may change
Surnames: A - L
Surnames: M - O
Surnames: P - Z
Comp Sci 203
Electrical, Mechatronics
Allocations may change
Surnames: A - H
Surnames: I - Nn
Surnames: No - Z
Mol Biol Sem B
Snape TS2A
Snape TS3A
  • Students will work together in groups of 4.
  • "Group tutorial" problem sheets will be given out at the sessions. These will also contain "home tutorial" problems. If you complete the "group" problems in the tutorial session, start on the home problems.
  • Attendance will be taken at the END of the tutorial. Doing non-Statics work during a tutorial is the same as being absent.
  • Tutorials are the most valuble part of the course - where you get help from tutors and classmates, you review the lecture material, and you begin to understand properly and find out what you need to work on.
  • Trying to get out of tutorials early is poor time management - you HAVE to spend time on the course, so why not do it when there's help at hand? Then you'll have less studying to do on the weekend!
  • Earphones, music players, cell phones, etc are NOT ALLOWED in tuts. You're supposed to be concentrating on Statics and talking with your group.
Textbook: [Top]
Engineering Statics

Available on Vula --- go to "MAM1042S, 2015", "Resources".

You are EXPECTED to print out and use this text. It covers the same theory as the lectures, but the examples are all different. Material from this text could be used for tests and exams. The text complements the lectures, and is not intended to replace them, so it is strongly recommended you take good lecture notes. Note-taking focusses your attention very effectively, and you remember much more after you walk out than students who just listen.

If you want to look at other textbooks - almost any textbook with the title "Engineering Mechanics - Statics" will do, and there are lots of different ones. But most of them are intended for the USA or the UK, and are rather above first year level in South Africa.

Test and Exam Info:

  Coverage Date Time Venue Surnames
Class Test 1
Bring student card
Tuts 1-5 Wed 19 Aug 2015 18:00-19:20 PD Hahn LT1
R W James, LTA
A - Md
Me - Z
Class Test 2
Bring student card
Tuts 6-10 Wed 30 Sep 2015 18:00-19:20 PD Hahn, LT1
R W James, LTA
A - Md
Me - Z
(*)Make-Up Test
Bring student card
Med Cert or Excused on one previous test
Tuts 11-13 Wed 21 Oct 2015 10:00 - 11:20 TBA "MED" or "EXC" on T1 or T2

(*)If you miss a written test (test 1 or test 2) for an approved reason, then you need to take the make-up test.

Explanation: In tests and exams, you are expected to explain properly and present working clearly. "Explanation" consists of the little headings that say what calculation you're doing next, or give reasons for results. You see them in lecture examples and model solutions. Explanation & logical ordering are worth marks.

Honesty: Looking at the questions early or writing late are considered cheating. Since we can't tell what 400 students are looking at or writing, an open question paper at the start, and an open answer book at the end are taken as cheating. (From our point of view - we need a reasonable rule that can be enforced. From your point of view - make it obvious you're doing the right thing.)

Extra Time Letters: If you have been awarded extra time, you must show the original of the letter awarding you extra time to the course convenor, and provide a photocopy, LONG BEFORE any tests. DO NOT just pitch up in the test with your letter - you won't get your extra time.

Medical Certificates: If you miss a test because of illness, you must bring a medical certificate signed by a doctor (not a nurse) within a week, otherwise you will get ZERO on the test. This applies to everything for which you get marks. Certificates that don't give a clear medical opinion that you were unfit to write a test on the date in question will be REJECTED.

Calculators: You should have a basic scientific calculator that can compute standard functions such as sin, log, powers, roots, etc. More powerful calculators will not be allowed in tests.

Final Exam: One 2.5 hour paper in November.

Coverage: ALL the work presented in lectures, class examples, tutorials and the course text. For tests, study everything done so far. Typically only the lecture material for which you haven't had a tut will not be testable, but everything else could be on the test. For test 2, the material since the last test will be emphasised, but if you haven't mastered the basic material of test 1 you'll be stuck.

Past Papers:

Past papers for tests & exams, and marked solutions for tests, are available on Vula --- go to "MAM1042S" for the current year, and click

Note that these have typos corrected and so are better than the "originals".

Past Exam Paper Solutions: Full solutions to MANY problems are already provided: ~100 class examples, ~100 course text worked examples, ~50 past test questions, hint solutions to all the group tut questions (~50), and answers only to all home tut questions (~80). There must also be a good selection of problems WITHOUT solutions or answers, for you to figure out on your own. That's how it will be in tests and exams! Thus we don't provide solutions for past papers (~80 questions) - it's a small fraction of the full set of problems! However, if you're observant, you'll see that exam questions include questions from the course text, class examples, tuts and past tests, for which there are answers or solutions.

Test Mark Queries: When your written test scripts are returned, you should compare your work carefully with the solutions provided right away, and see what material you need to revise. You can always ask a tutor or lecturer to explain. If you wish to query the marking, hand the script in to your lecturer within 3 working days. Scripts written all or partly in pencil will not be remarked. Note that the whole script will be remarked. (Please note that final and supp exam marking undergoes much more careful checking of the marking and the addition than tests.)

Class Record, DP, and Final Mark:


DP:      For an "automatic" DP, you must satisfy ALL of the requirements below. These requirements are very easy to achieve. If you can't achieve them in 12 weeks, you aren't going to make up the difference in the exam period! When pleading for a DP, solid reasons for your performance are expected, and attendance at tutorials will be taken into account.

Item DP requirement DPR pending DP Review in
Consolidation Period
Instant DPR CR Weight   Final Mark Weight  
Tutorial attendance ≥ 90% < 90% < 90% < 90% < 90%
Test 1 % ≥ 25% < 25% < 20%
x 0.5 50 Must take 2 tests  
Test 2 % ≥ 25% < 25% < 20%
x 0.5 50
Make-Up Test % (*) ≥ 25% [After DPs Out] < 20% x 0.5 50
Class Record % ≥ 35% < 35%     100% x 7/20 35
November Exam %           x 13/20 65
Final Mark             100%
(*) For those "MED" or "EXC" on test 1 or test 2.

CR:      The class record always counts in the final mark.

A Pass     is     Final Mark = 50% or more.
But note that there is a subminimum - you must get a mark of at least 40% on the November Exam to pass.
             For example,    CR = 81%,    EXAM = 39%    →     53%    overall, but does not pass.
In practice, I've never seen anyone get such a high class record (without cheating) and then fail the exam, so don't worry!

Results & Supplementary Exams:


Provisional Exam Results for MAM Courses are released as soon as they have been approved by the external examiners and submitted to Bremner, usually 12-14 days after the end of exams - watch the Maths building noticeboards. These results are provisional because the faculty examiner's meetings must review them. Provisional results do not show supps, as these are only finalised by the examiners' meetings.

Final results should be posted about 3 weeks after the end of exams. Awarding of supplementary exams is only indicated in the final results. The "normal" supp range for this course is 45-49%, but it's not guaranteed as there are other considerations. Make it your business to find out if you got a supp as soon as final marks are out. Note that there are extra fees for supp exams.

Who It's For:

  • 1st year core course in Civil, Mechanical, Electro-Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering.
  • Optional 1/2-course in 1st year Science - though a mark of 70% or more is required to pass.

Entrance Requirements:

  • To be registered at UCT in Engineering or Science.

Load & Credits:


Total workload:     48 lectures + 12 tutorials.
Weekly:     4 lectures (45 minutes) plus 1 tutorial (2 hours).
Semester:     2.

  • 16 credits in the Engineering Faculty ( = 1/9 of the first year load).
  • A half course in the Science Faculty ( = 1/8 of the first year load), provided a mark of 70% or more is obtained.

Course Outline:

Force Vectors Adding forces - Resultants,
Unit Vectors.
Coplanar Forces at a Point Resultants,
Normal Reaction & Friction,
Least Force,
Connected Particles.
Parallel Forces Moments,
Principle of Moments,
Uniform Distributed forces,
Connected parallel systems,
Centres of Gravity Many Particles,
CGs by Integration,
Composite Bodies,
Non-Uniform Densities.
General Coplanar Forces Moments,
Principle of Moments,
Adding Forces & Couples,
Internal forces --- Shear Force, Bending Moment & Compression Force,
Equivalent systems,
Two-Force & Three-Force Problems,
Toppling vs Sliding,
Compound Systems,
Distributed Forces Integrating Non-Uniform Distributed Forces,
Resultant Force & Moment by Integration,
Areas of Varying Width,
Pressure in a Liquid, Internal forces due to distributed forces.
Moments of Inertia Significance of Mass & Area Moments of Inertia,
Moments of Inertia by Integration,
Parallel Axis Theorem.

Nature of the Course:


In this course, you must become familiar with solving Statics problems, and be able to work quickly & easily with force diagrams, resolving, moments, integration, etc. You should develop a feel for forces in structures and machines.

This is NOT a basic Physics course, it is an Applied Maths course - we use Maths in solving problems in other subjects. There are only a handful of physical principles in Statics and you do them quite quickly in Physics. (Nevertheless, getting Newton's 3rd Law correct in Statics is not always as easy as it seems.) You will learn methods for applying those principles in a variety of basic Engineering situations.

At this level, we won't get into realistic Engineering problems much. If you get too realistic, the problems become too messy & detailed for first year Statics. We want to focus on getting the basics right.

How to Pass:


Keep up to date
There is no substitute for keeping up with your work.

  • Review lecture notes within a day or two. While the lecture is still fresh in your memory, fill in gaps in your notes, and mark questions;
  • read the course text ("course companion") regularly;
  • attend all tutorials and try to complete the "group tutorial" questions in the time;
  • do the home tutorials within the week;
  • get your questions answered soon - ask your lecturer or tutor or the hotseat tutor;
  • become familiar with the methods of Statics, so they come easily in a test;
  • test revision should actually be revision, not first learning;
  • collect each test script as soon as it's out and check what you got right and wrong, then carefully revise the material you got wrong.

If you try to do tutorial questions long after the relevant lectures, you'll really struggle to know what they're about. If you do them soon, it will re-inforce what you learned in lectures.

Your job in a test or exam is to show us you know how to do Statics.
Getting the right answer is only a small part of this.

  • You should:
    • use a good method,
    • start from basic equations or principles,
    • diagrams are expected in nearly all questions,
    • use brief headings to say what you're doing,
    • present your working clearly & logically.
  • if it takes you too long to set up a solution to a question, you won't get much done in the test - you should already be well practiced in the methods of Statics;
  • If your method is good, but you get the wrong answer because of a minor slip, you will get most or all of the marks.
  • If your method is good, but we can't tell for sure because of poor presentation, you probably won't get so many marks.
  • If you get the right answer, but your explanation is poor and/or your method is not clear, you probably won't get all the marks.
  • Remember, when you work for a company, and the boss asks your team for a design study, she/he wants to see clearly that you've done all the right things, and should not have to spend hours puzzling over your report, or checking things.

Aim for a safe pass
Anyone who's planning to pass a course should be aiming for a CR of 60% or more.
Your exam mark can easily vary by 5%-10% if you're not at your best on exam day - so DON'T aim for 50% - aim for a clear pass.

Next year's courses will build on the knowledge and skills gained this year. If you scrape through a course on 50%, you have a lot of gaps, so following the lectures and keeping up with the work will be extra hard next year!

If your class record is below 30% in a course at the end of the semester, you have so much work to catch up with, that you really can't pass. So rather spend the time making sure you pass your other courses! Think of DPs as sound academic advice, based on many years of experience.

Don't spot questions
Anything done in lectures, class examples, tutorials or the text could be on a test or exam.

It is very useful to go over past exam papers. Use them to get an idea of the expected standard. Do not use them to guess what questions will be asked. Don't think "that's too hard - it can't be in the exam". If it's in the course, it could be in the exam. Long tutorial questions can be used in shorter form.

We wish you well in all your courses.
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