Stability of Structures / Faculty: Rima Taher, PhD, PE

CE 636 851 Fall 2013 Senior University Lecturer



Graduate course - Lecture format 3 credits Online Instruction.



An understanding of structural stability is a special branch of engineering mechanics of importance to structural engineers whose job is to design safe structures. In a structure, a small change in load could cause a large change in displacement. If the change in displacement is large enough, or is in a critical member of the structure, a local or member instability could lead to a total collapse of the entire structure. Instability failures are often catastrophic.

This course examines how and under what loading condition, a structure passes from a stable state to an unstable one. The stability of different structural members and systems is analyzed. The course also includes a practical look at how theory translates into design methods implemented in design specifications. All major international design specifications include provisions based on stability theory. Attention is especially focused on steel structures. Compared to structures designed using other construction materials, steel structures rely to a greater extent on stability limit states.


  Prerequisites/ Required Skills:


Knowledge of the basics and principles of engineering mechanics and structural analysis & design is required. Some mathematical skills in calculus and differential equations are also expected.


  Required Text:


Structural Stability of Steel Concepts and Applications for Structural Engineers, by Theodore V. Galambos and Andrea E. Surovek, John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

(ISBN # 978-0-470-03778-2)




o   Structural Stability Theory and Implementation by W. F. Chen and E. M. Lui Prentice Hall, 1987.

o   Theory of Elastic Stability, 2nd Edition, by S. P. Timoshenko and J. M. Gere, McGraw Hill, 1961.

o   Stability of Structures under Static and Dynamic Loads, ASCE 1977.

o   Principle of Structural Stability Theory, by A. Chajes, Prentice Hall, 1974.

o   Strength of Metal Structures, by F. Bleich, McGraw Hill, 1952.


  Grading Criteria:


Test 1: 25% - Tentative Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Test 2: 25% - Tentative Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Final examination: 30% - During the final exam week of December 13 to 19

Assignments: 20% - Due dates will be announced and posted.


  Instructor/ Contact Information & Office Hours:


Office Number: Weston 521.


Office Hours: by appointment.






  Course Content:


1-      Review: External Work & Strain Energy Principle of Virtual Work Principle of Stationary Total Potential Energy (1 week)


2-      Fundamentals of Stability Theory: Spring-Bar System, Post-Buckling Behavior, Softening Spring-Bar Structure, Equilibrium Solutions, Virtual Work Method


(2 weeks)


3-      Snap-Through Buckling (1 week)


4-      Multi-Degree of Freedom Systems - Elastic Buckling of Planar Columns: Large Deflection Solution of an Elastic Column (1 week)


5-      Elastic Buckling of Planar Columns (Continued): Differential Equation of Planar Flexure, Pin-Ended Columns, Fundamental Column Cases Examples

Test 1 (2 weeks)


6-      Inelastic Column Buckling (1 week)


7-      Stability of a Rigid Frame End Restrained Columns - Boundary Conditions for Bracing Structures Examples

Test 2 (3 weeks)


8-      Beam- Column Stability : Behavior of Beam-Columns, Elastic Limit Interaction Relationships, Amplification Factors Examples (3 weeks)


9-      Lateral / Torsional Buckling - Specification-Based Applications of Stability in Steel Design (1 week)


Final Exam: December 13 to 19.


The NJIT Honor Code will be upheld, and any violations will be brought to the immediate attention of the Dean of Students.