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Bradley Nichols, Ph.D - VCU College of Engineering. Engineering East Hall, Room E3249 | Richmond, VA, US

Bradley Nichols, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering | VCU College of Engineering

Engineering East Hall, Room E3249 | Richmond, VA, UNITED STATES

Bradley Nichols is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

Areas of Expertise (9)

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

Engineering Education

Engineering Design and Analysis

Measurements and Instrumentation




System Identification

Dynamics and Control Systems

Education (3)

University of Virginia: B.S., Mechanical Engineering 2008

University of Virginia: M.S., Mechanical Engineering 2010

University of Virginia: Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering 2017

Affiliations (2)

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Courses (7)

EGMN 102 - Statics

Mechanics is the physical science that describes and quantifies the effects of forces acting on an object. It provides both a foundation and framework for the mechanical engineering curriculum. Statics is most often the first course taught in the sequence of mechanics and deals with forces that act on rigid structures (i.e. rigid bodies) in equilibrium. An object in static equilibrium is either at rest or moves with a constant velocity. This course develops the ability to formulate statics problems from a multitude of real-world applications and provides the corresponding theory needed for solving those problems.

EGMN 203 - Engineering Practicum II

This course consists of a sequence of laboratory modules designed to provide practical, hands-on exposure to important topics, equipment, and experimental methods in the fields of mechanical and nuclear engineering. Machine shop training modules teach students how to safely use basic hand, power, and bench mounted tools. Advanced manufacturing modules introduce students to 3D-printing technology where they print and assemble a small robot. Mechatronics modules familiarize students with modern electronics so that they can wire and program their robots. Students are taught how to use a multimeter and oscilloscope to diagnose electrical circuits. Finally, nuclear engineering modules introduce students to concepts of radiation including detection and shielding.

EGMN 300 - Mechanical Systems Design

Mechanical Systems Design applies the basic principles of mechanics and strength of materials to the design of individual machine components and complex mechanical systems. Stresses associated with basic loadings as well as designs featuring geometric discontinuities, pressurization, centrifugal forces, press and shrink fits, thermal expansion, and contacting surfaces are considered and analyzed. Mechanical failure resulting from both static loading and fatigue are investigated with an emphasis on prevention and the selection of proper failure criterion. Design principles are applied to specific machine components and assemblies including rotating shafts, bearings, couplings, gears, springs, brakes, and clutches, among others. Tolerances and fits of machined parts and assemblies are specified with a focus on manufacturability and associated costs. A detailed design project addressing a real-world engineering problem incorporates the concepts introduced in the course.

EGMN 315 - Process and Systems Dynamics

Process and Systems Dynamics involves the mathematical modeling and analysis of various types of linear systems in order to understand the behavior of those systems in response to a variety of time-varying inputs. These linear systems include mechanical (i.e. spring, mass, damper), electrical, and electromechanical systems. Mathematically, these systems are represented as linear differential equations and are analyzed with the aid of the Laplace transform. Transfer functions and block diagrams provide mathematical and visual representations of a system’s response to a given input. State-space representation, time-domain techniques, and frequency-domain techniques all provide useful tools for the analysis of dynamic systems. In addition to introducing these various tools and techniques, this course focuses on the selection of the proper method(s) to best describe how individual system components affect overall system behavior. Feedback control systems are introduced as a method for actively controlling system behavior. Practical applications in vibrating systems are emphasized throughout the course.

ENGR 402/403 - Senior Design Studio Seminar

Senior Design Studio Seminar is taken by all senior students working to complete their culminating Capstone design project. This course serves two primary functions. First, it acts to keep students on-track with regards to the completion of their design project. To this end, the project timeline is reviewed on a weekly basis. Instructions for developing and presenting a professional quality design report are provided. Strategies for formulating and managing a successful team are also discussed. The second function of the course is to introduce students to real-world practices encountered in modern engineering industries. Relevant topics included codes and standards, economics, and ethics. Societal, political, and environmental impacts of engineering design are introduced and discussed. Students are familiarized with relevant government agencies and professional associations that may influence the engineering design process.

EGMN 420 - Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) Design

CAE Design involves the design and analysis of kinematic mechanisms that perform specific functions in order to solve real-world, unstructured engineering problems. These mechanisms can consist of many different elements such as linkages, cams, gears, belts, and chains arranged such to transmit motion in some predetermined manner or pattern. An iterative engineering design process is emphasized in which potential solutions are synthesized, analyzed, evaluated, and modified. Kinematic analysis (i.e. position, velocity, acceleration) is carried out both analytically and graphically with assistance from computer modeling and engineering visualization tools. Emphasis is placed on creative, yet elegant, design solutions. Multiple design projects require the ability to apply the engineering design process to a nebulous problem in order to create a viable mechanistic solution.

EGMN 691 - Rotordynamics

Rotordynamics involves the study of the unique dynamic behavior associated with high speed rotating machinery. Topics include critical speed, stability, and unbalance response analyses focusing on the effects of gyroscopics, cross-coupled stiffness, and flexible supports. The mechanics of supporting components including fluid-film bearings, roller-element bearings, magnetic bearings, squeeze-film dampers, and seals are explored, as well as their effects on rotor performance. Finite-element modeling of rotor-bearing systems is introduced. Practical industrial considerations include machine vibration signatures and rotor balancing. Instrumentation, measurements, and experimental identification of the dynamic properties of rotating systems are also explored.