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An Integrated Approach To Teaching Engineering Design And Design Decision Making

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.76.1 - 4.76.6

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Paper Authors

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Robert H. Mayer

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

Session 2225

An Integrated Approach to Teaching Engineering Design and Design Decision-making Robert H. Mayer U. S. Naval Academy


An extensive case study to facilitate design instruction at the U.S. Naval Academy is described. “Restoration of a Coral Reef” is a semester-long engineering design experience involving five related exercises. These exercises provide a useful context in which discuss and apply various design tools and methods used in different phases of the engineering design process -- from problem assessment through project planning and construction cost estimating. Students also have opportunity to experience design-team interactions and develop communication skills associated with the design report.


At the U.S. Naval Academy, ocean engineering students gain understanding of the design process and are introduced to many tools of the design engineer in the introductory design course, EN461: Ocean Systems Engineering Design (OSED) I. Classroom instruction covers the basic principles used to design beams and columns of structural concrete, steel and timber. Fundamentals of computer-aided drafting, construction cost estimating, engineering economics, hydrographic surveying and project planning are also introduced. The principle course goal is to provide opportunity for students to gain sufficient knowledge to apply effectively the methods and tools of the design engineer to accomplish a capstone design project in the follow-on course, EN462: OSED II.

Given the breath of topical coverage, EN461 instructors are challenged to present the material in a way that integrates, rather than segregates, the various design topics. An effective avenue for design methods and tools integration was identified in recent documentation of two coral reef restoration projects accomplished in the Florida Keys.1-3

In 1989, the oilfield supply vessel M/V Alec Owen Maitland ran aground upon a living coral reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In an unrelated incident, during the same year, the M/V Elpis grounded on another reef in the same sanctuary. Physical damage to the reef substrate and impact on the local marine biota was severe at both sites. Natural ecological recovery was considered unlikely. Under its Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, NOAA recovered more than $3M from the responsible parties to offset costs of damage assessment and restoration of the affected areas. Subsequently, in 1995, each site was structurally restored by removing coral rubble, stabilizing the underlying reef structure, and recreating the original bathymetry with a structurally-sound foundation that would support natural-species colonization.1

Mayer, R. H. (1999, June), An Integrated Approach To Teaching Engineering Design And Design Decision Making Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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