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Course Objectives

Learning Objective

Be able to construct idealized (particle and rigid body) dynamical models and predict model response to applied forces using Newtonian mechanics. More specifically:

  • Describe and predict the motion experienced by inertial and non-inertial observers
  • Understand central force motion
  • Understand the basic principles of 2D Rigid Body Motion
  • Formulate the equations of Motion of 3D Rigid Bodies
  • Understand linear theory of harmonic oscillators

Measurable Outcomes

  • To be able to select and use an appropriate coordinate system to describe particle motion
  • To be able to describe particle motion using intermediate reference frames, which can be in relative motion (including rotation) with respect to each other
  • To be able to formulate dynamic models in accelerating frames
  • To be able to identify and exploit situations in which integrated forms of the equations of motion, yielding conservation of momentum and/or energy, can be used
  • Utilize 2-body orbital mechanics to analyze space trajectories
  • Utilize Euler's equations in body-fitted principal axes
  • Model and analyze simple problems involving vibration with and without damping

Assessment Methods

Tests, homework problems, laboratory assignments, and class participation (PRS).

Assignments and Grading

There will be 11 problem sets (no problem set is due the week of the midterm exam), 3 laboratory assignments and 2 tests. Problem sets are due Wednesday at 11 am in class and laboratory assignments are due on Fridays at 11 am in class. Late assignments will not be accepted. There will be one midterm exam and a comprehensive final exam.

Each homework problem must be on a separate sheet of paper. If you need more than one sheet you should staple them together. Each sheet must contain your name.

The laboratory assignments involve simulation of aircraft motion and require the use of MATLAB®. You will be required to turn-in some of your MATLAB® code electronically. The required derivations and the requested plots need to be turned in on paper on the due date. The code is not to be turned-in on paper.

The grades are composed as shown in the table below.

Problem Sets 32%
PRS Participation 3%
Laboratory Assignments 15%
Midterm Test 20%
Final Exam 30%

An excerpt of the MIT grading rules is given below and it will be strictly followed.

Grades at MIT are not rigidly related to any numerical scores or distribution functions, that is, grades are not awarded solely according to predetermined percentages. As can be seen from the following grade descriptions, a student's grade in a subject is related more directly to the student's mastery of the material than to the relative performance of his or her peers. In determining a student's grade, consideration is given for elegance of presentation, creativity, imagination, and originality where these may appropriately be called for.

Passing Grades

Undergraduate and graduate students who satisfactorily complete the work of a subject by the end of the term receive one of the following grades:

  • A - Exceptionally good performance demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials
  • B - Good performance demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject
  • C - Adequate performance demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field
  • D - Minimally acceptable performance demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work


Collaboration, such as working with others to conceptualize a problem, define approaches to the solution, or debug code, is allowed and encouraged as long as it is identified. Plagiarism, such as copying someone else's solution or MATLAB® code, is not allowed. The write-ups must always be your own. Modifying someone else's code to make it your "own" is unacceptable.

If you choose to collaborate with other students on the homework problems or the laboratory assignments, indicate their names and the nature of your joint work. Ensure that your collaborator does the same on his/her assignment. Violations of these guidelines will be dealt with as per section 10.2 of the MIT Policies and Procedures.


There are no required textbooks for the class. However you should read the lecture notes before coming to the class.

The main reference book for the course beyond the lecture notes and a good source for example problems is:

  • Amazon logo Meriam, J. L., and L. G. Kraige. Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics. 5th ed. New York: Wiley, December 28, 2001. ISBN: 0471406457.

The following books are also recommended as additional resources:

  • Amazon logo Kleppner, D., and R. J. Kolenkow. An Introduction to Mechanics. 1st ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, March 1, 1973. ISBN: 0070350485.
  • Amazon logo Harrison, H. R., and T. Nettleton. Advanced Engineering Dynamics. London: Arnold, 1997. ISBN: 0340645717.
  • Amazon logo Hartog, J. P. Den. Mechanics. New York: Dover, June 1, 1942. ISBN: 0486607542.
  • Amazon logo ———. Mechanical Vibrations. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956. ASIN: B0006AUAGS. 
  • Amazon logo Hibbeler, R. C. Engineering Mechanics: Statics And Dynamics. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall, December 15, 2001. ISBN: 0130200069.

A complete MATLAB® reference is available here.