Department of STRUCTURAL Engineering


SE104L Structural Materials Lab



Instructor: Professor Yu Qiao

Office: SME 442G | Phone: 858-534-3388 | Email:


Course Information:  


Lab Sessions: Wed and Thur, SME 145


Lab Managers: Mr. Steve Porter; Ms. Jessica Tuazon (Office: SME 147)
Lab Manager Email:;


Lab TA: Brandon Schiller, Brett Boehmke
TA Email:; 


Office Hours: SME 411, Tue 10-11:30am


Overall Grading: Lab 1 Report (14%) + Lab 2 Report (18%) + Lab 3 Report (18%) + First Project Report (25%) + Final Project Report (25%) = Total (100%)


Preparing and writing lab reports is a team work. For every lab report, a contribution factor must be assigned to each team member.


The final score of lab report for a student = the overall score of the lab report for the team X the correction factor.


The basic correction factor = the contribution factor, with the upper limit of 1.1. There is no lower limit of the contribution factor. Note that a contribution factor of 0.8 is considered very low. Usually, the contribution factor is between 0.9 to 1.1.


Unapproved absence in lab session leads to a penalty factor up to 0.5 for the corresponding lab report.


For the first and second competitions, the team who wins the first place of the class enjoys a bonus factor of 1.15; the second place enjoys a bonus factor of 1.1; and the third place enjoys a bonus factor of 1.05. 


Additionally, at the end of the quarter, the Lab Manager and the TA may suggest (upon the approval of the instructor) up to 10% bonus factor for students whose performance is outstanding or up to 30% negative penalty factor for students whose performance is unacceptable (e.g. routine absence), based on their observations in lab sessions. The majority of the class will not be affected by this item.


Tentative Lab Schedule (Updated schedule is posted on TED)






Lab 1: Materials price survey

Team formation


Lab 2A: Producing cement cylinders

Lab Report 1 due


Lab 3: Tensile tests on polymers and metals

Use of extensometer


Project A: Deflectometer processing; soldering workshop

Lab Report 3 due


Lab 2B: Compression test on cement cylinders
Project A: Deflectometer construction


Lab 2B: Compression test on cement cylinders
Project B: Coke can competition


Project B

Lab Report 2 due


Projects A&B: first testing



Project B

First project report due, including the prediction


Projects A&B: final testing




Final project report due on Tuesday



Lab Report


For each lab, each team develops one lab report. No late lab report will be accepted.



The laboratory exercises will be conducted in teams. You will have the opportunity to pick, within the first week, your own team members. However, once a team is formed, all members share the grade given to a team throughout the entire quarter. Each experimental laboratory will have a report associated with it.


It is required that every student must download the lab instruction from TED and read it before he/she performs the experiment.




It is required that ALL students must follow the lab safety rules specified by the Lab Manager and the TA. It is incumbent on each team to maintain a clean and safe work environment. All implements must be cleaned properly after use and placed back in their designated locations after completion of each laboratory exercise. All materials must likewise be carefully stored in the designated location. Waste and scrap from each laboratory must be cleaned up prior to leaving the laboratory after the end of an exercise and must be placed in the designated containers.


Structural Engineering Department’s Academic Integrity Policy can be downloaded [here].



Lab Report Guidelines


This write-up provides a general set of guidelines for laboratory reports. However, each lab write-up must be considered in the context of the requirements of that laboratory exercise. Thus some exercises will require reports with all the aspects listed in this guideline, while others may require more or less levels of detail.


Cover Sheet

Title of Report

Team (#)

(Printed names and signatures of all team members, Department, School)

Test Date: (##/##/##)

(Report Due Date)





In this portion of the lab report, you should clearly state the problem that was investigated and explain the reasons that you performed this experiment. Discuss what you expected to learn from the experiment and why you wanted/needed the information that was earned.


Theoretical Analysis


In this section, you should discuss the problem from the standpoint of fundamental principles. Discuss the different theoretical principles that you used during the experimental and data reduction processes. You should present any equations that you used for data reduction in this section of the lab report.


Testing Apparatus and Instrumentation


The testing equipment that you used during the experiment should be described in detail in this portion of the lab report. Describe how the testing equipment was set up and how the different parts of the experimental apparatus worked together to provide you with the information that you needed. All instrumentation used in the experiment should be described (give range and sensitivity). Diagrams of the experimental set up can be presented in this section of the report, if appropriate.




This section of the lab report is a record of how you actually performed the experiment. You should give a detailed description of the different steps you executed during the experiment. This section should not be an instruction guide for how the experiment should be performed. If you missed a step or changed the experiment at all, you should explain the change and the reason for departing from the standard test protocol. Any changes from the standard test protocol may affect your results. Therefore, you may be able to explain any unexpected results by referencing changes to the procedure that you made during the experiment. If a standard testing procedure was used during the experiment, you may reference it.




The results from the experiment should be presented in this section in simple, condensed form. This can be achieved by using tables, graphs, and figures. Any tables, graphs and figures that you use should be included in this section (not at the end of the report!) and should be discussed and referenced in the text of this section. When possible, your results should be compared to information from reliable resources.


Discussion of Results


In this section of the report, you should discuss the results of the experiment in relation to the objective of the experiment. Compare your results to the theoretical results obtained by using principles discussed in the Theoretical Analysis portion of the report. Again, table, graphs, and figures can be used to present a comparison clearly and simply. Explain possible reasons why your results may or may not match well with the theoretical results. Any unexpected results should be discussed and explained in terms of experimental procedure and/or theoretical principles. If you are testing a number of different specimens in an exercise this would be the section where you would compare the results.




In this section, important findings from the experiment should be discussed in relation to the purpose of the experiment. Results per-se should not be discussed here. Moreover, any findings that were not mentioned in the preceding sections of the report should not be discussed. In addition, list 3-4 I-must-remember items (tricks, knowledge new to you, lab devices new to you, etc.) that you learned from the lab exercise.




References are used to identify other people’s work and concepts [1]. It is critical that everyone provides a clear record as to where we have obtained information if previously published, or stated, by someone else [e.g. 2]. Thus, a list of references, in full, including, but not restricted to, journal articles, websites, books, etc. needs to be included as part of the report. Not citing a reference is considered the equivalent of academic dishonesty and will be investigated. Citations must be specifically given, throughout the text, wherever other people’s ideas, concepts, words, or other work are used, throughout the text. If a book is cited, the page number must be specified [3]. If a sentence or a paragraph written by other people is directly quoted without rephrasing, it must have a different font from other parts of the report, and quotation marks must be used [4].


[1] Website starting with “http://” (Wikipedia is not allowed in this course)

[2] Porter, S. Private conversation or email communication (March 20th, 2017).

[3] Author names, article title, journal title, volume number, page number, year

[4] Author names, book title, edition, publisher, page number, year





Include any items pertaining to, but not directly part of, the lab report. Such items include data sheets, handouts, sample calculations, etc.