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An Experiment In Undergraduate Research

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Effective Learning Innovations in Civil Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.209.1 - 12.209.9



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Paper Authors


Chris Ramseyer University of Oklahoma

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Ph.D., P.E. is an assistant professor at the School of CEES at OU. He has spent 5 years as a structural steel designer. His research interests include cold formed steel, structural stability, bridge issues and concrete materials. His educational interests include undergraduate research in engineering and alternative learning paradigms. He received the OU-CEES George W. Tauxe Outstanding Professor Award in 2004.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Experiment in Undergraduate Research


The students who participated in the inaugural 2004 summer program coined the name "Camp Concrete" after they cast and tested more than 50,000 pounds of concrete specimens at Donald G. Fears Structural Engineering Lab. This works out to be approximately 500 concrete specimens per student, a phenomenal volume of work. In subsequent years the Camp Concrete research teams have continued to study concrete materials but it has grown to include cold- formed steel and large scale structural testing. This successful summer research program involves large numbers of undergraduates in cutting edge "pure" research as defined by Schoenfeld and Magnan.

Management of the research team is discussed and evaluated. Challenges for the faculty and staff include; providing enough raw materials to keep up with the students' phenomenal volume of work, helping make the work fun and exciting, and expanding the students horizons beyond the immediate research focus of their team. As the summer progresses, the students take over day-to-day management of the projects. To ensure that all the students are engaged in the research and understand its goals and challenges, weekly meetings are held to discuss progress, difficulties and preliminary results. Keeping the work fun and exciting, while granting the students control of the research process, encourages the students to pursue graduate study.

Several research sponsors make this challenging program possible. Each of the projects that form the back bone of Camp Concrete addresses an immediate need identified by the sponsor. Initially the sponsors were not informed of their projects involvement in Camp Concrete but the success of the Camp has help build sponsor support. Assessment methods include evaluation of the projects outcome by sponsors, feedback for students including questionnaires and informal surveys and direct measurement.

Camp Concrete was motivated by a desire to build a robust structural engineering program and to increase the recruitment of our undergraduates. Prior to Camp Concrete recruitment of our graduating bachelors into grad school had dropped to zero. Camp Concrete has been instrumental in creating a sense of community between our undergraduate and graduate programs. In three short years our recruitment into the masters program has grown from zero to about a third of the 2006-2007 graduating bachelors. Camp Concrete provides a possible template for successfully increasing enrollment in graduate school and increasing the number of students leaving school already meeting the criteria for ASCE policy statement 465, commonly referred to as the Body of Knowledge (BOK). Students participating in Camp Concrete are involved in all 15 of the outcomes included in the BOK.


Camp Concrete was not developed as an experiment in undergraduate research. It developed in response to the unique constraints and opportunities experienced by the structural engineering group at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES). It became apparent that the research experience, developed out of necessity, was beneficial as an undergraduate research experience and has became a key tool for recruiting

Ramseyer, C. (2007, June), An Experiment In Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2495

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