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Balancing Classical Solutions With Computer Technology In The Undergraduate Geotechnical Curriculum

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Are Classical Solutions Outdated?

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.250.1 - 9.250.7



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Paper Authors

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Andrew Rose

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

Session 3515

Balancing Classical Solutions with Computer Technology in the Undergraduate Geotechnical Curriculum

Andrew T. Rose University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Abstract One of the desired outcomes of civil engineering technology education is to prepare students for the practice of civil engineering after they graduate. This requires developing student knowledge and competence in the use of standard design practices, tools, techniques, and computer hardware and software appropriate to their technical discipline.1 To accomplish this, technical courses must balance the coverage of engineering theory with engineering applications typically encountered in practice. Computer technology commonly used in civil engineering practice must be included to achieve this. To meet the needs of employers, students need familiarity with current computer software, as well as an understanding of theories and analysis methods used by the software. Educators must carefully balance the coverage of theory and classical solutions with computer applications to provide students the background they need for their profession.

Introduction Many educators rely on their own experiences as students and the material presented in textbooks to select topics covered in their courses. However, computer technology has resulted in many changes to civil engineering practice since many educators were students themselves. Many current textbooks still present classical solutions for many engineering problems. While some classical methods are historically important, their practical use in current engineering practice is limited and their value in the undergraduate curriculum is less important today than in the past. Some methods, however, are still appropriately taught in the undergraduate curriculum. Methods that reinforce basic concepts, solution procedures and behavior still provide students valuable learning experiences. To prepare graduates for industry, educators must balance teaching classical methods that emphasize the solution process and behavior with computer methods graduates will use in industry.

Due to changes in the professional practice of civil engineering, updates to what is taught within the civil engineering curriculum are needed.2,3 This is in part due to the abilities of computers to conduct computations much more efficiently than in the past.3 Graduates from structural engineering programs with considerable computer usage4 have an employment advantage over their peers since they tend to be more productive in industrial positions immediately after graduation. In most civil engineering programs, computer software use is introduced into the curriculum directly through discipline specific courses. The literature presents numerous examples of computer usage and software implementation in discipline specific courses.5,6,7 This can be difficult when hardware or software problems arise or when student questions on software usage result in loss of valuable class and instructor time thereby limiting coverage of technical content.8 Civil engineering programs using an integrated course format9,10 show how separate

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Rose, A. (2004, June), Balancing Classical Solutions With Computer Technology In The Undergraduate Geotechnical Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12790

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