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Board 50: Bridging the Gap: a Co-taught Field Course with Integrated History and Civil Engineering Content

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Charles Riley P.E. Oregon Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Riley has been teaching mechanics concepts for over 10 years and has been honored with both the ASCE ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Award (2012) and the Beer and Johnston Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award (2013). While he teaches freshman to graduate-level courses across the civil engineering curriculum, his focus is on engineering mechanics. He implements classroom demonstrations at every opportunity as part of an instructional strategy that seeks to overcome issues of student conceptual understanding.

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Mark Henry Clark Oregon Institute of Technology

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After receiving a B.S. in mechanical engineering at Rice University in 1984, Mark Henry Clark decided to pursue a career in the history of technology, earning a Ph.D. in the subject at the University of Delaware in 1992. Since 1996, he has been professor of history at the Oregon Institute of Technology. He has also been a visiting faculty member at the University of Aarhus and the Technical University of Denmark.

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This paper describes an innovative approach to the integration of social science and engineering content within the context of a field-based course. The class, titled “Oregon Bridges,” combines instruction about both the history of the construction and maintenance of major bridges in Oregon and the fundamental engineering design principles of bridge building. Students participated in a nine-day field trip along the Oregon Coast and the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, followed by classroom instruction and development of a portfolio of the bridges visited. The central theme of the class is the life of the bridge engineer Conde McCullough, best known as the designer of the major bridges on the Oregon Coast, and his continuing influence on the design of bridges in Oregon.

The class was co-taught by two faculty members, one from history and one from civil engineering. The design and execution of the course was a combined effort, with a unified set of readings and integrated instruction that exposed students to multiple viewpoints on the subject. The central goal was to provide civil engineering students with a broad perspective on the factors that influence engineering design, going beyond the purely technical to explore issues associated with aesthetics, place, politics, and economics.

This paper describes the class structure and content, as well as issues raised by the unique structure of the field portion of the class and problems encountered during planning and execution. A thorough discussion of course assessment is also included, based on student surveys and the achievement of learning objectives. Finally, we discuss the place of the course within the context of the major outcomes-based general education reforms now being implemented at the Oregon Institute of Technology as well as other civil engineering curriculum drivers like the ASCE BOK and ABET outcomes.

Riley, C., & Clark, M. H. (2018, June), Board 50: Bridging the Gap: a Co-taught Field Course with Integrated History and Civil Engineering Content Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30049

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