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Adopting an ACI/ASCE Competition as a Learning Tool in Civil Engineering Materials Class

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Let’s Get Pumped: Innovative Approaches for Better Student Engagement

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Daniel Hochstein Manhattan College

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Dr. Daniel Hochstein is an Assistant Professor at Manhattan College and he received his PhD from Columbia University in 2013. He teaches civil engineering courses in the areas of engineering mechanics and materials, probability and statistics, and structural design. His research interests include studying the mechanical and thermal properties of lightweight concrete and performing accelerated weathering, durability, and aging tests on civil engineering materials.

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Goli Nossoni Manhattan College

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Dr. Goli Nossoni is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Manhattan College. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Structural Engineering and Materials Science. In addition to her interest in engineering education, Dr. Nossoni specializes in the research area of materials especially concrete and corrosion of steel inside concrete.

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Mohab El-Hakim Manhattan College

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Dr. El-Hakim is an assistant professor in Manhattan College - New York City campus. He is a licensed professional engineer in Ontario with nine years of industrial and academic experience. He is a sessional instructor in University of Waterloo and EPIC since 2011.

During his industrial experience, he worked on several infrastructure projects, some of which included airports, highways, and municipal roads. His technical background and project experience in infrastructure projects includes in-depth knowledge of the nondestructive and destructive testing of pavements, infrastructure condition surveys, and pavement investigations related to airports, highways, and municipal roads.

He worked on infrastructure evaluation, analysis, and design projects for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation; the Alberta Ministry of Transportation; the Saskatchewan Ministry of Transportation; and the cities of Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, and Wood Buffalo. These projects entailed the development of design and rehabilitation strategies for new and existing infrastructures, nondestructive testing, and the analysis of infrastructure conditions.

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Knowledge in technical courses is enhanced through high-level active learning, which includes activities that integrate learned theory. Student-centered strategies, active participation of all parties – students and faculty– and clearly defined outcomes are promising approaches in teaching technical material. Students need critical thinking skills and creativity to develop effective solutions to complex technical problems and an active learning environment is useful for students to learn practical skills. This includes problem-based learning and student designed laboratory experiments. The Civil Engineering Materials course at Manhattan College is a core course taken by all civil engineering students in the spring semester of the sophomore year or fall semester of the junior year. Traditionally this course covers a variety of civil engineering materials, their sources, manufacturing processes, and behavior under different loading conditions. The content of this course is flexible and includes a laboratory component. This is one of the core classes in which active learning techniques can be implemented successfully. A term project competition inspired by the “Concrete Frisbee” competition held by colleges and universities across the country and world was introduced to four sections of the Fall 2016 and three sections of the Fall 2015 Civil Engineering Materials course. In alignment with Constructivist Learning Theory, students work in groups, and engage in group discussion and hands-on activities. Each group is asked to design their green concrete using recycled materials and construct a concrete Frisbee. Students are graded based on many factors such as aesthetics, weight, distance traveled, creativity and their written report. The success of the project is evaluated using a post in-class survey instrument. The assessment is based on student feedback evaluating their knowledge of sustainable concrete materials. The project was first incorporated in the fall semester of 2015 and it was again used with slight modifications in the fall semester of 2016. Along with these slight modifications, a student survey was introduced in the Fall 2016 semester to assess the success of the project. The results of the survey indicate that the project was effective. Additionally the course instructors have decided to reuse the project in future semesters with several additional modifications.

Hochstein, D., & Nossoni, G., & El-Hakim, M. (2017, June), Adopting an ACI/ASCE Competition as a Learning Tool in Civil Engineering Materials Class Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27542

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