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Mount Union Faculty Members Present Research

April 11, 2012

ALLIANCE, Ohio — University of Mount Union professors Dr. Pattabhi Sitaram and Dr. Lori Braa presented their research findings during a Faculty Research Forum held Tuesday, April 10 on campus.

Sitaram, assistant professor of civil and mechanical engineering, presented “Stresses and Deflection in Folded Plate Roofs by the Finite Element Method.” His primary area of research is in the development and application of finite element methods to solve a variety of problems in civil and mechanical engineering fields. 

During his presentation, Sitaram showed examples of folded plate roofs, which are used for large floor areas such as auditoriums, stadiums and community buildings that need to be free of interior column supports. Folded plates are also used in foundations, bridges, stairs and walls. Sitaram explained that folded plates can hold 100 times their own weight. The purpose of his study is to verify results of engineering design tables using more reliable methods. He also discussed how he uses ANAYS, a software program used by engineering students at Mount Union, in his research.

Braa, assistant professor of human performance and sport business, will present “A Qualitative Analysis of Variables that Contribute to the Academic Success of Freshmen Student-Athletes.” Her study sought to explore and identify variables that led to academic success of freshman student-athletes. An inherent goal of the study was to examine the cognitive and non-cognitive similarities and differences of freshman student-athletes.

During her presentation, Braa discussed her qualitative research on the time commitment of being a student and being an athlete. In her doctorate research, Braa interviewed five student athletes at a Colorado school with a GPA of 2.0 or below in one or both freshman semesters. She found four themes in her studies — academic adjustment, athletic demands, family influence and social adjustment. Braa learned that for many student athletes, high school coursework didn’t prepare them for the college courseload. Students also reported difficulty in meeting demands, fatigue and athletic demands. Braa noted that students didn’t take advantage of resources offered to them by their university.

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