Engineering Dynamics: A Primer / Edition 2

Engineering Dynamics: A Primer / Edition 2

by Oliver M. O'Reilly
Pub. Date:
Springer New York


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Engineering Dynamics: A Primer / Edition 2

This Primer is intended to provide the theoretical background for the standard undergraduate, mechanical engineering course in dynamics. The book contains several worked examples and summaries and exercises at the end of each chapter to aid readers in their understanding of the material. Teachers who wish to have a source of more detailed theory for the course, as well as graduate students who need a refresher course on undergraduate dynamics when preparing for certain first year graduate school examinations, and students taking the course will find the work very helpful.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441963598
Publisher: Springer New York
Publication date: 06/15/2010
Edition description: 2nd ed. 2010
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

Oliver O'Reilly, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA.


Ph. D., Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1990.
M. S., Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1988.
B.E. (Mech), National University of Ireland (Galway), 1985.

Professional Experience

  • 1998 - Present Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley.
  • 1992 - 1998 Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley.
  • 1990 - 1992 Post Doctoral Assistant, Institut für Mechanik, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland.

Research Interests:

My research interests lie in Continuum Mechanics and Nonlinear Dynamics. Specifically, I am interested in the Dynamics of Rigid Bodies and Particles, Cosserat and Directed Continuua, Dynamics of Rods, History of Mechanics and Vehicle Collision Dynamics.


  • 1995, Hellman Family Faculty Fund
  • 1997 and 1998, Pi-Tau-Sigma Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 1999, University Distinguished Teaching Award

Society Membership

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Society of Engineering Science

Table of Contents

Dynamics of a Single Particle.- Elementary Particle Dynamics.- Particles and Cylindrical Polar Coordinates.- Particles and Space Curves.- Friction Forces and Spring Forces.- Power, Work, and Energy.- Dynamics of a System of Particles.- Momenta, Impulses, and Collisions.- Dynamics of Systems of Particles.- Dynamics of a Single Rigid Bodies.- Planar Kinematics of Rigid Bodies.- Kinetics of a Rigid Body.- Dynamics of Systems of Particles and Rigid Bodies.- Systems of Particles and Rigid Bodies.- Appendices.- Preliminaries on Vectors and Calculus.- Weekly Course Content and Notation in Other Texts.


Scope, Aims, and Audiences

This primer is intended to provide the theoretical background for the standard undergraduate course in dynamics. This course is usually based on one of the following texts: Bedford and Fowler [6], Beer and Johnston [7], Hibbeler [33], Meriam and Kraige [39], Riley and Sturges [50], and Shames [56], among others. Although most teachers will have certain reservations about these texts, there appears to be a general consensus that the selection of problems each of them presents is an invaluable and essential aid for studying and understanding dynamics.

I myself use Meriam and Kraige [39] when teaching such a course, which is referred to as ME104 at the University of California at Berkeley. However, I have found that the gap between the theory presented in the aforementioned texts and the problems I wished my students to solve was too large. As a result, I prepared my own set of notes on the relevant theory, and I used Meriam and Kraige [39] as a problem and homework resource. This primer grew out of these notes. Its content was also heavily influenced by three other courses that I teach: one on rigid body dynamics, one on Lagrangian mechanics, and another on Hamiltonian mechanics.' Because I use the primer as a supplement, I have only included a set of brief exercises at the end of each chapter. Further, dimensions of physical quantities and numerical calculations are not emphasized in the primer because I have found that most students do not have serious problems with these matters.

This primer is intended for three audiences: students taking an undergraduate engineering dynamics course, graduate students needing a refresher in such a course, and teachers of such a course. For the students, I hope that this primer succeeds in providing them with a succinct account of the theory needed for the course, an exploration of the limitations of such a course, and a message that the subject at hand can be mastered with understanding and not rote memorization of formulae. For all of these audiences, an appendix provides the notational and presentational correspondences between the chapters in this primer and the aforementioned texts. In addition, each chapter is accompanied by a summary section.

I have noticed an increased emphasis on "practical" problems in engineering dynamics texts. Although such an emphasis has its merits, I think that the most valuable part of an education is the evolution and maturation of the student's thinking abilities and thought processes. With this in mind, I consider the development of the student's analytical skills to be paramount. This primer reflects my philosophy in this respect.

The material in this primer is not new. I have merely reorganized some classical thoughts and theories on the subject in a manner which suits an undergraduate engineering dynamics course. My sources are contained in the references section at the end of this primer. Apart from the engineering texts listed above, the works of Beatty [5], Casey [12, 14], and Synge and Griffith (641 had a significant influence on my exposition.

I have also included some historical references and comments in this primer in the hopes that some students may be interested in reading the original work. Most of the historical information in the primer was obtained from Scribner's Dictionary of Scientific Biography. I heartily recommend reading the biographies of Euler, Kepler, Leibniz, and others contained in this wonderful resource.

Finally, have tried where ever possible to outline the limitations of what is expected from a student for two reasons. First, some students will decide to extend their knowledge beyond these limitations, and, second, it gives a motivation to the types of questions asked of the student.


My perspective on dynamics has been heavily influenced by both the continuum mechanics and dynamics communities. I mention in particular the writings and viewpoints of Jim Casey, Jim Flavin, Phil Holmes, Paul M. Naghdi, Ronald Rivlin, and Clifford Truesdell. I owe a large debt of gratitude to Jim Casey both for showing me the intimate relationship between continuum mechanics and dynamics, and for supporting my teaching here at Berkeley.

The typing of this primer using LATEX would not have been possible without the assistance of Bonnie Korpi, Laura Cantu, and Linda Witnov. Laura helped with the typing of Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10. Linda did the vast majority of the work on the remaining chapters. Her patience and cheerful nature in dealing with the numerous revisions and reorganizations was a blessing for me. David Kramer was a copyreader for the primer, and he provided valuable corrections to the final version of the primer. The publication of this primer was made possible by the support of Achi Dosanjh at Springer-Verlag. Achi also organized two sets of helpful reviews. Several constructive criticisms made by the anonymous reviewers have been incorporated, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

Many of my former students have contributed directly and indirectly to this primer. In particular, Tony Urry read through an earlier draft and gave numerous insightful comments on the presentation. I have also benefited from numerous conversations with my former graduate students Tom Nordenholz, Jeffrey Turcotte, and Peter Varadi. As I mentioned earlier, this primer arose from my lecture notes for ME104. My interactions with the former students in this course have left an indelible impression on this primer.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Lisa, my parents, Anne and Jackie, and my siblings, Seamus and Sibeal, for their support and encouragement.

Oliver M. O'Reilly

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