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CALLING ALL STUDENTS! (and everyone else)

yoursdhruly's picture

Recently, Prof. Suo and several of us students have been discussing the possibility of increasing student presence and activity on iMechanica . With this in mind, two of us: Mahdi Kazemzadeh and I, have identified three important issues we would like to get your thoughts on. Please comment and let us know what you think, even if you are not a student. Also, if you wish to add any more issues you think we should look at, please post your thoughts in this regard as well.

1. Suggestions for ways in which students can best make use of iMechanica and contribute to its growth and sustenance: In other words, how best can iMechanica and the student community benefit each other?

2. This is a tricky one: should we request iMechanica architects for a dedicated section called "Students"? What would such a section contain and how would it distinguish itself from other sections, esp. the one titled "Education "? Would it make more sense to just use the "Education" section for discussion?

3. Student Volunteers: This is perhaps the most important to sustain student activity for a
long time to come. We need students to step up and accept responsibility in at least two of these areas:
     a.    Publicizing iMechanica among students (and faculty): This could involve posting flyers on technical notice boards and/or sending emails to fellow graduate students or department lists.
     b.    Taking responsibility for answering student questions or directing them to experts/books: This is critical. Nobody likes to post a question/comment and not get a response from anyone. I think it is vital that several of us students accept the responsibility of checking the recent posts regularly and making an effort to answer any questions we can or direct the author of the post to an expert or a source that can be of help. If we interact with each other, we can make iMechanica a more friendly and useful place for everyone.

If you are interested and willing to be a volunteer for either or both of the above, please post below and say so and we will get in touch with you. Finally, will it help to identify a seperate group of students as "Student Moderators", just the way iMechanica has architects, moderators and managers?

While most of these three issues relate to goals that are somewhat long-term, there are a few things you can do immediately:

  1. Register, if you haven't already
  2. Edit the Job Description in your Profile to "Student" - this way we can keep track of the progress we are making
  3. Comment on this thread, even if it is just one line, to let us know of your presence and support
  4. Follow and participate in the evolution of this thread: keep checking back for new posts and new ideas!

These ideas are open to change. Our hope is that we can together define these goals and the ways we can best address them, and then propose them to the iMechanica architects for approval. It is very likely that iMechanica will become the central point of communication for all
mechanicians in the future. What better place to participate in something grand while getting visibility and making new connections?

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Dhruv and Mahdi


Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

we are all together now and we have started to write our comments and come into conclusion. Having all of our proposals in the direction of statement above, we will be able to update it together. Please let us know your comments,that is the time to make our ideas practical and ask for advise. I would like to say thank you for Dhruvs help in all stages which lead into nice ideas you read above. Looking forward to hear from you.


Mahdi Kazemzadeh

Ying Li's picture

I am in good agreement with your idea.

1) I think it is good to build a place for student. Just like the NASA, they have many different things for the people, such as "for kids",, "for student", "for research" et al.

Therefore, the students could use the place for their study, even the homework.

2) It is also good to recurit the student to handle to  the " for student ", they know what the students really want. The can talk about many things in their studies, which are quit different with the researchers did.

3) I would like to be a   volunteer for the imechanica like I am a bm at mechanics@newsmth.


Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture


I am so happy to see that you would like to be a volunteer for the iMechanica new group. I am very grateful to you because of your consideration, if other students keep on reading our new post and try to write down their ideas, soon we will accomplish our aims. Please keep in touch and write your comments. Best Wishes.

Mahdi Kazemzadeh


Ying Li's picture

Duo to my experience at, I think it is also a good experience to help with the development of the imechanica. Also, I have learened many things at here. It is a good time to feedback.


Mogadalai Gururajan's picture

In the Science Blogs hosted by Seed, I often see articles titled Basic Concepts in Science, on topics such as energy, entropy, pH, what is a gene and so on; a more complete list is available here . If we can have a similar series of posts here, that might be helpful to students (but not only to them)--as an example of what I have in mind, I would cite some of the comments by Kaushik Dayal on peridynamics here , which helped me learn about peridynamics--I hadn't heard about it till I saw Kaushik's post. Of course, these posts can be made in the Education section; or, we can start a new section called Basic Concepts; either way should be fine.

Nanshu Lu's picture

Dhruv and Mahdi,

Many thanks to you two to take the responsibility and summon all the students.

I think a special platform dedicated to students is necessary and can let us be more focused. Also, it is easier to organize or track information.

It is good to clearify the responsibility of everyone, I can take the job to answer questions related to fracture mechanics and finite elements, trying my best of course.

As in my previous comment, we volunteers can first initiate some topics and comment on each other so as to buid up the atmosphere. I believe others will follow quickly.

Besides, it is also nice to have a reading club of students. It can be unlike the Journal Club of iMechanica in the way that we can have several permanent topics and the student in charge should keep the news or scientific papers in that field updated. Others can come in to read or discuss or ask for help. How do you think?

Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture


Dear Nanshu,

Thanks for writing your ideas and that nice comment. We all will be pleased to have your experience and knowledge in our section.

At the moment, we are in a very first part of the project so we need some basic concepts that we are all agree with. This will help us to organise our section. You are very welcome to write your comments and inviting other students to join us.

I will try to reply all the comments on the page. In a short period of time, Dhruv and me will review all the comments then we can post a comment which will focus on discussions untill today.

Thanks for comments, keep in touch.

Mahdi Kazemzadeh

Zhigang Suo's picture

A student-run jClub sounds like an excellent idea!  The mission of this new jClub can be quite different from the mission of the existing jClub.  If any of your colleagues are interested in this idea, you might want to take a look at the oerating notes of the jClub, and post comments here to formulate the ideas.  Michelle Oyen posted a few related ideas before:

Questions in my mind are

  1. What might be the mission of such a journal club?  Why bother?
  2. Should we begin with a journal club on a sub-area of mechanics, and see how it might work?  If so, which sub-area should we try first?
  3. How can students divide the work among themselves?  That is, what might be the operating procedures?

It took people like Pradeep, Michelle and many others much discussion to get the jClub off the ground.  To make a student-run jClub a success will also take some careful planning.  Your thoughts on this will be helpful.

Julian J. Rimoli's picture

First of all I find this proposal really interesting and I think it would be a great contribution form iMechanica to have a section dedicated to students interested in mechanics. I think this section should address students that are currently working in the field of mechanics as well as students that think of mechanics as a future step in their careers.

Regarding the questions posted, I would like to share my perspective:

1)      I think there are two key ways in which  iMechanica could help students:

a.       By making materials such as lecture notes available for the students.

b.      By providing guidance and mentorship to students. In this regard, I think special emphasis has to be done on the undergraduate population, in order to promote mechanics as an interesting and current field of research.

2)      I believe that a section “Education” is broader in the sense that it involves all the members of an educative community, from students and TA’s to Professors. Therefore, I think that “Student” could be a subsection in the current “Education” one.

3)      I would like to volunteer for publicizing iMechanica on Caltech campus among graduate students as well as undergrads. I would also like to volunteer to answer questions and provide mentorship to students seeking advice in the area of solid mechanics. In order to do so, I think that there should be an email notification to the volunteers when a new question in their area of expertise is posted.



Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture


 Dear Julian,

Thanks very much for your consideration and comments. Actually your comment made me to think again about one of the issues that we have got and that is the range of knowledge in a student section that we are going to build. This was one of the main topics we thought about it and I think Dhruv has the same idea.

One of the solutions is to have academic part in our group as well this will certainly help us to maintain the scientific preview in iMechanica.

Thanks a lot. I am very pleased to hear that you would like to volunteer for publicizing iMechanica on Caltech campus.

That is great for all of us to have your mentorship. I have added your proposal to initial statement that an email might be sent to the senior staff when a new question in their area is posted.

Please keep in touch and let us know your ideas.

Mahdi Kazemzadeh

Here are some of my thoughts about the proposed students section

1. There should be a separate page containing URL links to the material of interest to the under-graduate and the beginning graduate (i.e. post-graduate) students. The links may refer to course notes, articles and postings within and outside of iMechanica.

2. There should be a separate page containing a list of the senior students (RAs/TAs) and faculty-members or other senior professionals who are willing to be student mentors. (I, of course, volunteer to be one! Just visit my Web site and if you think I could of any help, identify yourself and shoot a question here!)

3. Students should be encouraged to post their own seminars, project reports, poster presentations, etc. here at iMechanica. The big point here is that it doesn't have to be a full-fledged research article. It doesn't even have to a prize-winning entry in a student competition. iMechanica is, I suppose, meant for a more informal interaction and feedbacks than a competition or a journal referee process can possibly yield.

4. About having a separate section for the students. I have a mixed feeling, as jotted below:

4.1 Whether you like it or not (actually: whether you like to believe it or not) data-mining is a fact of today's life, and so is lesser uses such data are put to and the resultant targetted *soft* attacks in career and life.

It would be a valid concern on the part of today's student if he is apprehensive about talking freely at a public Internet forum if, 5 years down the line, people in his future job might use any mistakes he now makes here, and hold these against him--e.g. to deny him a raise, job, or promotion.

Just laughing away the concern or giving a typical "adult" form of "assurance" (i.e. an empty one!) won't help--specific steps are necessary.

A special section will help identify that the incorrect answers were posted, or perhaps silly-looking question were raised here, but only in the context of a learning process.

To help ensure this, a separate section, or a special tag for entries made by the students, should exist.

4.2 At the same time, let's not overdo this. Let's not give too much of a kid-in-gloves kind of treatment to the university students of mechanics. Two separate reasons stand out.

4.2 (a) Many Internet/IT entrepreneurs, even millionnaires, have been students (even drop-outs!) Apparently, some young people can not only easily hold their own when among very mature professionals, but even beat them. The young people are specifically hunted for by the VCs. (I should know. VCs have avoided me as if I were a carrier of a plague of some sorts! My guilt? I had lived long enough to be in my late 30s / 40s before running into them!! Many relatively less competent ones at IIT Bombay, in contrast, have received funding. (Feel free to separately ask for details.)) Apparently, there *is* a limit to how soft and "encouraging" kind you ought to go with people who would be shouldering important responsibilities (and make at least reasonably good amount of money) in a year or two.

4.2 (b) It is well known that in many games (e.g. ping-pong, badminton), the best strategy to improve your game is to keep playing against people who are much better at the game than you are. You do know beforehand that you will lose most of the times. But only an actual game can bring out the outer limits of your own game. Intellectual analysis doesn't help--actually slogging out in an actual game does.

The same also goes, to an extent, for intellectual improvement.

But today's conferences are a way too hurried an affair. As Biswajit once said here on iMechanica, sometimes, once a star speaker leaves, not only students but even other researchers do end up talking to empty halls.

In contrast, emails, blogs, and public fora like iMechanica do present opportunities for interactions. Students should grab these.

Considering pros and cons, I think just renaming "education" as "students" might be sufficient for the time being.
Conclusion for point # 4.: A separate students section seems desirable. However, even if they have a separate section, students should not hesitate to ask questions and seek clarifications from seniors on threads elsewhere. There is no need to over-do "encouragement" to students.


May be more, later.

Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

 Dear All,

Lets appreciate the lunch of new thread for students and write more comments. We need more comments from all students and academics. Without your support and help it will not be possible to improve our society in iMechanica. Looking forward to hear from you.

Best Wishes,

Mahdi Kazemzadeh

yoursdhruly's picture

THANKS for all your comments - I apologize for being away from this thread this long. Mahdi, thanks for keeping things going! Nanshu, Mahdi and others have been the pioneers as far as pushing students' priorities on iMechanica, so thanks to all of you.

Let us return to one thing we all seem to agree upon: we need a new section. Let us discuss this and finalize the section and propose it to the iMechanica architects (Nanshu can perhaps help us with this...). Once we have this finalized and a section going, we can head on to rounding up all the volunteers and discuss ways and means to popularize iMechanica.

The first question is the name of the section: Julian suggests making it a subset of "Education" and calling the section "Students". Mogadalai suggests "Basic Concepts". My personal concern with calling a section "Students" is that it may alienate those who are not students, which is not what we want. Perhaps we can combine Mogadalai's and Julian's suggestions and make "Basic Concepts" a subset of "Education"? I am not sure what this would entail and if it would be possible... Nanshu, can you and/or your Harvard colleagues comment on this please?

Once the name and format is sorted out, we can address the other things including content of the page. I really like Nanshu's idea of doing something similar to the journal club, only focusing on more basic concepts, which is also what Mogadalai says.  I also like Ajit's suggestions about connecting this page to other resources: a special section on links would help for this. Another challenge we have is recruiting volunteers - so far only seven of us have posted here (thank YOU!!!). If you are a student and are reading this, we need you!!! Please join this discussion.

I think let us focus on one aspect of our discussion at a time, starting with the title and format. "Basic Concepts" as a subset of "Education" - is this the best way to execute our plan and is it feasible? Looking forward to your responses.


Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

 Dhruv,I am happy that you are back. Now we can step forward to give our discussion some more energy.

Like Dhruv mentioned, the first thing which might be sorted out first is the name of the section. I was thinking about a name which has got students, academics and basic concepts all together; I came up with a location named " University". Actually this section can have a name like "University" or "UniWorld".

I will be happy to know your ideas about my proposed names. We can discuss about other steps after our conclusion about the name of the section.

Best Wishes,

Mahdi Kazemzadeh

ramdas chennamsetti's picture


You may consider "UniMechanica" as the section name.

- Ramdas

Gopinath Venkatesan's picture

How about StudEntity, StudaLounge, Askodagama, AlMechie.

And my first question in Student section what kind of topics to be addressed at. Because my field is now in the structural dynamics (previously in the fatigue and fracture mechanics/macroscopic), and I find this forum to be more "Material" istic, and related to micromechanics/modeling.




It will be really a good idea to start a 'students'
section It is sometimes difficult to browse the imechanica page
regularly and read/follow. Such a section will be a place to browse
first quickly.

This section may help us by providing lecture
notes of good schools, discussing about hot research ereas and
different carrier opportunities.

Sandip Haldar


 Solid Mechanics is a very vast subject. For PhD students or experienced researchers, the task of overviewing the topic may seem daunting. As the developments are continuously going on, I suggest that 'Students' section should have articles/papers/reports which will give overview of a particular topic. For example, cellular solids, sandwich structures, biomechanics of tissues, crashworthiness of structures and many more. I think overview of various topics is more important than 'Basic concepts'; which can be found in good reference books

One such example is the presentation about Cohesive zone modelling on Dhruv's personal webpage.

 Best regards

Shivnandan Pingle





yoursdhruly's picture


Thanks for going through my CZM review...I think you make a very good point. There is the "very basic" material, from statics to LEFM, that can be found in undergraduate/graduate texts. On the other hand, some of the subjects being discussed in the J-Club, e.g. "Mechanics of Hydrogels", maybe a little too specific for the student population. The in-between is where I think we can learn the most: topics such as Cohesive Zone Modeling or X-FEM - subjects that are not taught in a typical graduate course, yet are not too specific or applied. If this makes sense, we can identify some areas and assign Editors for these topics.

SIMULTANEOUSLY, I think it is critical that we increase student activity at iMechanica and do our best to publicize it within our individual schools - but I will bring this up in a seperate post.

Thanks for your thoughts, looking forward to more discussion with you. 


Zhigang Suo's picture

This thread of discussion has shown considerable interest in starting a place for students in iMechanica.  To this end, let us first experiment with a few simple ideas:

  • A link is added on the right side of iMechanica called "For students".  Please comment if you think any other title for this link is more effective.
  • This link gives all posts with the free tag "students".
  • Please use this tag when you post anything of particular interest to students.
  • Moderators can also add this tag to existing posts.
  • Please subscribe to RSS feeds of the posts and comments.


yoursdhruly's picture

Prof. Suo,

Thanks a lot for your guidance: I think this is an excellent starting point for us and a wonderful idea. This IS the best way to get things started: we can continue to post in Education, but include as a tag the word "students". Later on, we may feel that we should have a seperate section.

Your suggestion about the student journal club is an excellent one, we will follow up on that.

Now that we have a way of collecting our posts together, let us focus on the next step: increasing student activity.



Hi Dhruv,

The notes provided in your webpage are very good. I read the first one and was really helpful to get the time history of the fracture mechanics.


Sandip Haldar

yoursdhruly's picture

Hi Sandip,

I am glad you found them useful. I had made this for a presentation - that is one of the ways we can share information here. We all survey the literature in our field of interest and often document it in some form - such files can be shared on iMechanica.

Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it and am glad it was of some use to you.


yoursdhruly's picture

I have started a new thread in the "opinion" section and created a poster to help publicize iMechanica in schools. Please visit this page and share your thoughts.

Kejie Zhao's picture

Hi, Dhruv and Mahdi

  I'm a new people in imechanica, and totally agree with your thoughts on buiding a student space. It's a good method to publicize imechanica among students, more important, it will benifit largely student-self.  Actually, from the begining of the research work I have received many patient replies from others, even my questions seem stupid. They are really helpful.  Now it's a good chance to feedback.  

  As student's experience is big limited, I think the space can focus on the basic concepts of solid mechanics, and provide links of experts in the sub-field, also questions encountered in their work should be encouraged to be posted. Although it may need long time to build complete sub forums for students, the suggestion and encouragement are also precious. On my responsibility, I can take best to publicize imechanica in Xi'an Jiaoda, and try to answer the questions related to computation simulation method, and some knowledge on nanoporous materlas. You may contact with me by Thanks!

Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

Dear Kejie,

You are very welcome. We all have the same sort of ideas here; if you refer to quick guide section on top corner of the iMechanicas webpage, you will find a catagory named "For Students". Please feel free to post any comment or your project issues and share it with the other students there. Looking forward to hear from you there. 

Mahdi Kazemzadeh

thanks for making so much effort for student and working professional to get there problem  solved so quickly...

yoursdhruly's picture

Hello all,

I started this thread, and feel guilty for not taking it to its logical conclusion: a special sub-section for students. For a while, we did have a "For Students" link, that would show up all the posts with "students" as a key word. Now, I suggest, if you're still reading this thread and wondering what happened, that we use the "Education" link for all that we intended to use in the "students" section we envisioned. This is already being done, so there is nothing new. I just wanted to put some closure on a discussion that began with much fervor.


Zhigang Suo's picture

At the top of the right side of iMechanica is a tab called Ask iMechanica.  Here people can post and answer questions.  Apparently a large number of questions remain unanswered.  If you are in the mood, please try to answer a question or two.  As we all know, the best way to learn a subject is to teach it. 

I am commenting because you requested that students who read this comment.


As to the topic at hand, I don't think much action is required. I do not think that the community here is going to make any large shifts because of a special effort to attract us students.  I do not think that a section called Students would be very effective. It is of note that the similar section you mentioned—Education—has many entries that do not seem to have anything to do with education.  

Forgive my cyncicism, but I am sharing what I think is most realistic. I don't think iMechanica needs to change to suit students; it has currently formed into what it is naturally and organically, and it doesn't make sense to change it to try to suit such a goal. Publicity among students is another issue, but I do not think it makes sense to try to make this a different place to attract people who otherwise would not be interested.

yoursdhruly's picture


We proposed some of these ideas almost a year ago - at the time, crystallized with the benefit of hindsight, there was one key argument in my mind: Folks who are students now, will tomorrow be Professors, industry members etc. and potentially represent iMechanica's future contributors. Therefore, if we want to increase the impact and progress of iMechanica, we need to bring in more students and excite them about iMechanica.

Making a separate page for Students was just one of the ideas towards that goal. We believed that such a page would make it more likely for students to post their ideas, start threads, and develop it independently. Who is to say that the creation of a new page for Students is "not organic"? After all, we came up with the idea ourselves quite naturally (which is perhaps why we still don't have a page for students, but that is another story) :-)

I also disagree with your comment on the entries in the Education section being inappropriate. Most of them are very relevant and best fit in the Education section. For now, I believe this remains the best page for students to post their ideas to.

However, many questions do go unanswered in the "Ask iMechanica" section. Many papers are posted with no comments received in return. I believe we still do not have the numbers. I would like to believe that if we have more visitors to iMechanica than we do now (say 100x the present number), this would not be the case. Students are a great group to attract and arguably easier to get involved than most professionals.

Also, I do not believe a separate page for students will necessarily translate into more student activity - and I agree with you there, and am contradicting something I said previously on this thread. This very thread garnered 20 odd posts and there are perhaps a thousand or more students registered. In my humble opinion, and this may sound flippant, we need to increase our student membership by one or two orders of magnitude to have enough participation to justify a student page. And for this we need several students to take the lead, an area where I myself have not done as well as I had planned.

I think Prof. Suo's idea of a Journal Club for students is a good starting point and is easier to get going than say, marhsalling students across universities to promote iMechanica. I will try and set this up in the coming days, but anyone reading this, please feel free to take the lead.

Finally, on a slightly philosiphical note, we are all students. I just graduated and joined the industry, but I certainly don't feel any smarter! I think iMechanica and the people who post here, must realize that a significant percentage of their audience is a "student" when it comes to their research. This means every poster must make the extra effort to address this "student" base. Taken in this spirit, we would not have to distinguish "student" from "non-student".

I hope my ramblings are useful. To summarize my thoughts:
We don't need a "Students" page. We need everyone to recognize that a lot of us are students. And we need more people, students above all, if only due to the fact that they represent the future. And finally, like all endeavours great and small, we need passionate leaders. Why don't you take it on? Who knows, it may look good on your Resume too.



Hi Dhruv and others,

I've been waiting eagerly to see the first instalment of the classical paper discussion group that had been proposed.  What's the latest status on that?  Please get the discussion started as soon as possible.

On a lighter note, for those of you who are or have been foreign students in the US, here's a clip from PhDComics.

PhDComics -- Biswajit

Ajay B Harish's picture


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