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“Camp Concrete” – An Experiment In Undergraduate Research

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1462.1 - 11.1462.9



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Paper Authors


Chris Ramseyer University of Oklahoma

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Ph.D., P.E. is an assitant professor at the School of CEES at OU. He has spent 5 years as a structural steel designer. His research interests include cold formed steel, structural stability, bridge issues and concrete materials. His educational interests include undergraduate research in engineering and alternative learning paradigms. He received the OU-CEES George W. Tauxe Outstanding Professor Award in 2004.

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Beth Brueggen University of Oklahoma

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Earned her B.S. and M.S. in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma. During the summer of 2004 she was a post-graduate research assistant. She has earned the O.H. Ammann Fellowship twice, and received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship while at the University of Oklahoma. She is presently working on her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

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

“Camp Concrete” – An Experiment in Undergraduate Research Abstract:

The students who participated in the inaugural 2004 program coined the name "Camp Concrete" after they cast and tested more than 50,000 pounds of concrete specimens at Donald G. Fears Structural Engineering Lab at the University of Oklahoma. The goal of Camp Concrete is to involve undergraduate students in high-quality cutting edge civil engineering research. Research projects are selected to address immediate needs of local businesses and agencies, such as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The students take ownership of their projects, which increases the quality of their experience and encourages them to pursue graduate study. This program is shown to improve student retention and in many cases this research will become a student's M.S. thesis. Three projects were completed in 2004 which led to three presentations at the semi-annual American Concrete Institute (ACI) convention and three journal papers in progress.


Camp Concrete was not developed as an experiment in undergraduate research. It developed in response to the unique constraints and opportunities experienced by the structural engineering group at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES). It became apparent that the research experience, developed out of necessity, was beneficial as an undergraduate research experience and has became a key tool for recruiting students to our graduate program. It also proved to be an effective method for increasing the amount of high-quality research completed in our laboratory.


The structural engineering group at OU lost all five faculty members between mid 1999 and late 2000. As new faculty members were hired, there was a period of time during which very little research was conducted at Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory. Between 2001 and 2003, only two students completed thesis-based Masters of Science degrees with a structural engineering focus. While the undergraduate program in structural engineering had been relatively unaffected, the graduate program was virtually non-existent.

The new faculty realized that there was a pressing need to generate excitement about structural engineering at OU and to fill Fears Lab with research activity. Kyran Mish, the new senior structural faculty member, suggested that the structural group should be considered as similar to a start-up company during the rebuilding period. By this he meant that risks often avoided in academia should be realized as opportunities to a start-up. To support this idea materially, he plowed the majority of his start up funding into renovating the office space at Fears Lab.

Risks that became acceptable included: Encouraging a large number of undergraduate students to do significant, graduate-level research that could ultimately be used for a MS thesis. This encouraged undergraduate students to consider graduate study and demonstrated a commitment to renewing the

Ramseyer, C., & Brueggen, B. (2006, June), “Camp Concrete” – An Experiment In Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1276

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