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An Integrated Teaching Method for Design Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Inquiry, Inclusivity, and Integration

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Scott A Civjan University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Scott Civjan is a faculty member at UMass Amherst where he has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses over the past 20+ years. He has 4 years of consulting experience between obtaining his BSCE from Washington University in St. Louis and his MS and PhD in Structural Engineering from the University of Texas Austin.

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Design courses in the CE curriculum can be challenging for both students and instructors. It is usually the first introduction students have to problems with multiple solutions, using codes/specifications and designing actual structures. This paper describes a method, developed over 20 years, for addressing these topics. While the example is for a large capacity Design of Steel Structures course with no grader or TA support, the methods and concepts are adaptable for a wide range of design courses and formats.

The objective is to provide approaches for students of varying learning styles to internalize design concepts and provide confidence in their ability to complete designs of an overall structure rather than individual components. The course uses a reference structure as the connection between each component of the class, uses a variety of approaches to appeal to different learning styles, and integrates a dual approach in assignments.

A variety of steel structures under construction in our rural area have been selected, optimally with a section of regular framing and other areas of non-regular framing that can be used for comparison. Examples will be provided of differing complexity. Design documents are provided through the secure course web page. The students use these construction documents to determine the parameters (dimensions, sizes, designer constraints/notes) needed for homework. Voluntary tours of the construction site co-led by the instructor and contractor/project manager have student participation from 80-100%. Specific elements of the structure that are designed in the homework sets provide a palpable physical correspondence to the calculations.

Design assignments are of two types, core concepts (cc) worked individually or as pairs and implementation of concepts to the specific structure (is) which are worked in groups and are expected to require significant discussion. Typical assignments are as follows: • (is)Determine loads on structure from ASCE-7 (dead, live, wind, seismic) • (is)Determine forces on a specific beam, girder and column • (cc)Flexure and Shear capacities of general sections • (is)Design specific beam and girder based on forces • (is)Analyze LFRS variations (truss and moment frame) • (cc)Compression capacities of general sections • (is)Design specific columns, braces and combined force member in structure • (cc)Tension capacities of general sections • (cc)Bolt and weld capacities in general • (is)Design tension brace and connection based on forces

Solution sets explain differences between what students designed(is) and what is in the actual structure (introducing concepts of composite beams, cost savings through repetition, vibration of floors, architectural constraints, etc.)

Supplemental assignments can be used to address issues of office culture, life-long learning and ethics. Examples include prompts for responses to field changes in the reference structure, literature searches for information on additional design issues and office and construction site culture.

Assessment has included 6 years of anonymous student survey results and direct feedback from alumni, all showing positive learning experiences through the course.

In the paper and presentation the integrated learning approach will be described along with 20 years of experience on effective changes that have been made. Ties to learning theory and research on design experiences will be included.

Civjan, S. A. (2020, June), An Integrated Teaching Method for Design Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34134

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