Professor, Mechanical Engineering
5000 Forbes Avenue
Scaife Hall 304
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Professor Steif’s activities focus strongly on engineering education. This includes:
- Research to better understand how students learn (or do not learn) basic engineering subjects.
- Development of educational materials that will help students achieve the necessary, fundamental understanding of engineering subjects.
Much of Steif’s work in engineering education currently addresses learning in Statics and mechanics of materials. Projects, which involve a number of collaborators, include: establishing a conceptual framework for Statics; devising tests to assess conceptual understanding in Statics; reorganizing instruction and developing learning modules for the Statics classroom that reflect conceptual challenges; developing interactive problem solving software for mechanics of materials; and using protocol analysis to describe the process of modeling of engineering systems generally.
In a second area of focus, Professor Steif investigates stress development and cracking during cryo-preservation of biological tissues, in collaboration with Yoed Rabin and Michael Taylor. One major impediment to cryo-preserving tissues of substantial size are the temperature gradients which accompanying cooling and thawing. These temperature gradients can give rise to unacceptably high levels of stresses that cause cracking. This project seeks to combine experimentation and modeling to capture the mechanical behavior of tissues at representative temperatures and predict how such tissues respond to realistic cryo-preservation protocols.
Sc.B. 1979, Brown University
M.S. 1980, Ph.D. 1982, Harvard University
- P.S. Steif and M. A. Hansen, "New Practices for Administering and Analyzing the Results of Concept Inventories", (2007). Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 96, pp. 205-212.
- Dollár and P. S. Steif, "An Interactive, Cognitively Informed, Web-Based Statics Course", (2008) International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 24, No. 6, pp. 1229-1241interactive paper at: http://www.ijee.dit.ie/OnlinePapers/Interactive/Dollar_Steif/StaticsCourse.html
- J.L. Newcomer and P.S. Steif, "Student Thinking about Static Equilibrium: Insights from Written Explanations to a Concept Question", (2008) Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 97, pp. 481-490.
- P.S. Steif, J. Lobue, A. L. Fay, and L. B. Kara, (2010) "Improving Problem Solving Performance by Inducing Talk about Salient Problem Features", Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 99, No. 2, pp. 135-142.
- Steif, P.S., Palastro, M.C, and Rabin, Y., (2007) "The effect of temperature gradients on stress development during cryopreservation via vitrification," Cell Preservation Technology 5(2):104-115.
- Jimenez Rios, J.L., Paul S. Steif, and Rabin, Y., (2007) "Stress-strain measurements and viscoelastic response of blood vessels cryopreserved by vitrification," Annals of Biomedical Engineering 35(12):2077-2086.
- Steif, P.S., Palastro, M.C, and Rabin, Y., (2008) "Continuum mechanics analysis of fracture progression in the vitrified cryoprotective agent DP6," ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Volume 130, Issue 2, 021006.
Mechanics of Materials textbook
Freely available web-based Engineering Statics course:
Concept assessment tool for Statics (Statics Concept Inventory) and simple web-based FEA program: