Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Competition is meant to incentivize optimization within the world of engineering. In most situations, when engineering companies are bidding for a project to be completed, their goal is to optimize and make the most cost-effective product for the customer. The AISC Steel Bridge Competition is such a project. By normalizing for past performance and comparing the long-term performance of cadets who did capstones involving student competitions versus those who did not, the overall effectiveness of these academic endeavors may be estimated. Through the incorporation of multidisciplinary objectives stemming from the involvement of cadets with a major background other than civil engineering participating in a historically civil engineering dominated capstone, educational advantages, and broadened perspectives can be provided, and GroupThink can be avoided. In addition, through the analysis of functionality between interdisciplinary versus non-interdisciplinary groups, the overall level of student learning is enhanced. The West Point Steel Bridge Design Team is a group of six undergraduate seniors working on designing and building a steel bridge for the annual American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Student Steel Bridge Competition. This comprehensive competition in which students must design, fabricate, erect, and test a steel bridge has provided a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to broaden their understanding of real-world engineering issues. The ability of a student team to follow detailed rules, understand and apply effective project management, and optimize the bridge’s strength, stiffness, and cost for a client provides opportunities for both student learning and assessment of their learning. Historically, student teams that have competed in the Steel Bridge Competition have done so solely with civil engineer majors. Motivated by a desire to demonstrate excellence at the competition and to improve student learning, West Point’s Steel Bridge teams have adopted an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating a law major and a systems engineer major into the team over the past two years, respectively. Building off of the successes and lessons learned from these recent experiences, the West Point 2020 Steel Bridge Team once again adopted an interdisciplinary approach, with five student majoring in civil engineering and one student majoring in operations research. Given that few real-world engineering projects are completed without the utilization of multiple disciplines, the inclusion of students with different areas of expertise allows them to learn from each other while taking advantage of each other’s strengths. While West Point’s 2020 Steel Bridge team is not the first in-depth undergraduate interdisciplinary project, the effectiveness of such projects within the context of competition is largely unexplored. Surveys of recent graduates will serve as the primary assessment tool for the effectiveness of interdisciplinary versus non-interdisciplinary teams and competition versus non-competition teams. The authors will assess both the impact of student competitions on learning and the impact of interdisciplinary teams on the learning and effectiveness of competition teams. Additional assessment tools will include competition scores and feedback received from faculty members based on the performance of the 2020 West Point Steel Bridge Team.
Hill, A. T., & Arnett, K. P., & Lopez, C. A., & Baglino, J. A., & Perovich, N., & Moran, A. E., & Hebert, A. T., & Bradley, A. (2020, June), Analyzing the Effectiveness of Competition and Interdisciplinary Teams in Student Learning Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34151
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