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An Innovative Approach To Teaching Water Resources Design

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovation in the Civil Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.197.1 - 14.197.12



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Paper Authors


Diane Bondehagen Florida Gulf Coast University

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Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering
Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering
U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering
Florida Gulf Coast University

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Simeon Komisar Florida Gulf Coast University

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Associate Professor and Environmental Engineering Program Director
Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering
U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering
Florida Gulf Coast University

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

An Innovative Approach to Teaching Water Resources Design

Abstract A first semester, senior level civil and environmental engineering course, Water Resources Design is, for most, the first experience for students at Florida Gulf Coast University in working with non-trivial design projects. To make the course experience as transferable as possible to future graduate engineering employment, students learn and apply hydraulic software to project development and execution. The course takes an innovative case study approach with 5 design projects required with rotating teams assigned to each project. The projects are taken from "real world" engineering problem assignments which impart to students an appreciation of the constraints and uncertainties inherent in the design process. Project 1 necessitates a quantification and comparison of Capital costs and Operation and Maintenance Costs; Project 2 involves sizing of pipes, pumps and storage for a water distribution system; Project 3 requires a water treatment plant analysis to address two plant operation problems; Project 4 simulates a watershed; and the final design project is a detention pond design. The students soon realize that although there are specific goals to be met in a design, there are also inexplicit objectives requiring an evaluation of engineering uncertainties and engineering judgment in decision- making. The students are therefore challenged to base their decisions on sound engineering reasoning and forecasting methods, including multiple iterations of a design with different approaches, and to justify these decisions logically and convincingly in a formal engineering report format. To this end, throughout the course, consultation with other student teams and outside professionals/experts is encouraged.

Numerous assessment techniques are employed in course outcome evaluation. The students themselves complete a course evaluation survey which indicates their perception of learning outcome success. Additional assessment methods include faculty review and grading of design project reports as well outside evaluation of the final student design project by an experienced practicing engineer. Two rubrics, designed for the course, are employed in the overall assessment scores. The assessment will report on whether students have met or exceeded expectations in development of design ability, hydraulic software mastery, and an overall synthesis of skills and abilities required to deliver a soundly engineered project solution and formal design report.

Introduction The newly drafted Environmental Engineering Body of Knowledge (AAEE, 2008) acknowledges the importance of water and water resources engineering as a vital subject area for Environmental Engineers, and stresses the need for competence in this field as a cornerstone of Environmental Engineering education in preparation for the needs of the next century. Currently, two billion out of six billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water (UNEP, 2007) and this absolute number and the underlying ratio may grow larger by 2025. Increased loading of green house gases to the atmosphere may be creating a changed climate, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, including drought and storm conditions leading to floods. Even in areas with developed infrastructure, systems may fail far more often than can be tolerated even by those with an understanding of risk. We do not need to look farther than the U. S. Gulf Coast to see population expansion, potable water scarcity, and extreme weather all poised on a knife's edge. 1

Bondehagen, D., & Komisar, S. (2009, June), An Innovative Approach To Teaching Water Resources Design Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5060

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