June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.272.1 - 13.272.12
Camp Concrete – Growth of a Graduate Program
Abstract Students at The University of Oklahoma are offered an opportunity to participate in a locally funded undergrad research program, "Camp Concrete", which is loosely based on the National Science Foundations, Research Experience for Undergrad (REU) program. Forty seven students have been involved in this program during the last four summers. The research foci include structural, and civil engineering materials. This successful summer research program involves large numbers of undergraduates in cutting edge, "pure" research.
The organization and management of the undergrad research program is discussed. Challenges for the faculty and staff include; locating funding support, quick implementation of the research, high volume testing, encouraging active learning while making the work fun and exciting, and expanding the student’s horizons beyond the immediate research focus of their team. As the summer progresses, the students take over day-to-day management of the projects. To ensure that all the students are engaged in the research and understand its goals and challenges, weekly meetings are held to discuss progress, difficulties and preliminary results. Helping to make the work fun and exciting, while granting the students control of the research process, encourages the students to pursue graduate study.
Each of the projects that are used to fund this program addresses an immediate need identified by the individual project sponsor. The project sponsors are not aware that their research program is funding this undergraduate research program and are only interested in solutions to their research problem. Assessment methods for the undergraduate research include the standard methods used for graduate level research. This includes evaluation of the projects outcome by the sponsors, presentation and discussion at national conventions & peer reviewed journal articles. The program is analyzed and the students experience and its possible impact on their personal and professional life is discussed and evaluated in this paper. These aspects of the program are assessed through the use of a survey.
Overview To summarize Ramseyer1, Camp Concrete 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). These constraints started with the loss of all structural engineering faculty 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 OU's Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory. While the undergraduate program in structural engineering had been relatively unaffected, the graduate program was virtually non-existent. Opportunities included nearly unlimited access to Fears Structural Engineering Laboratory, a fairly large undergraduate student body wanting to focus on structural engineering, and a very understanding administration.
As Camp Concrete developed it rapidly became apparent that the research experience, developed out of necessity, was beneficial as an undergraduate research experience and has became a key
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