Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Weaver Smith


The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is an International Space Station Experiment that features a unique nonlinear support system with no previous flight heritage. The experiment consists of multiple straps with piecewise-linear stiffness curves that support a cryogenic magnet in three-dimensional space inside of a vacuum chamber. The stiffness curves for each strap are essentially bilinear and switch between two distinct slopes at a specified displacement. This highly nonlinear support system poses many questions in regards to feasible computational methods of analysis and possible response behavior. This thesis develops a numerical model for a multi-bilinear-spring support system motivated by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer design. Methods of analysis applied to the single bilinear oscillator served as the foundation of the model developed in this thesis. The model is developed using MATLAB and proves to be more computationally efficient than ANSYS finite element software. Numerical simulations contained herein demonstrate the variety of response behaviors possible in a multi-bilinear-spring support system, thus aiding future endeavors which may use a support system similar to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Classic nonlinear responses, such as subharmonic and chaotic, were found to exist.