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Competition-Based Learning Activities within Civil Engineering Education:

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Using Student Competitions to Enhance Learning

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.314.1 - 23.314.16



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Paper Authors


Brock E. Barry PE U.S. Military Academy

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Dr. Brock E. Barry is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy (West Point). Dr. Barry teaches courses in engineering mechanics and geotechnical engineering. He is a licensed professional engineer. Dr. Barry has over ten years of pre-academics professional practice experience.

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Karl F. Meyer U.S. Military Academy

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Colonel Fred Meyer is the Civil Engineering Division Director in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from USMA in 1984, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1993 and 2002, respectively. Meyer has been a member of the USMA faculty for eleven years and teaches courses in basic mechanics, structural steel design, reinforced concrete design, structural system design, and construction management. He has served as a senior mentor and seminar presenter in the ExCEEd (Excellence in Civil Engineering Education) Teaching Workshop from 2000 through 2012. He has conducted extensive research in the areas of lightweight concrete and high strength concrete and has published numerous papers on the topics. He is an active member of the American Concrete Institute, the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is an ABET Program Evaluator.

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Kevin P. Arnett P.E. U.S. Military Academy

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Kevin Arnett is a second-year instructor at the U.S. Military Academy in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. He teaches CE404, Design of Steel and Wood Structures; CE403, Structural Analysis; MC300, Fundamentals of Engineering Mechanics and Design; and has assisted with CE492, Civil Engineering Capstone course. He also advises the USMA ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition Team.

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Berndt Spittka P.E. Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, West Point, NY

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Major Berndt Spittka is currently an instructor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy. Berndt’s education includes a B.S. in Civil Engineering from USMA, a master’s of Engineering Management from University of Missouri Science and Technology and a Science Master’s of Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MAJ Spittka is a Registered Professional Engineer in Missouri. Berndt’s research interests are Design for future repair, Critical Infrastructure, Design for Sustainability and Engineering Education. He is an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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Competition-Based Learning Activities within Civil Engineering: A Critical Review of Current Options  Structured, competition-based learning activities have been used in the process of educatingaspiring civil engineers for many years. Some of the better known and more widely adoptedcompetitions include the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Concrete Canoe Competition andthe American Society of Civil Engineers/American Institute for Steel Construction’s SteelBridge Competition. It is estimated that upwards of 65 additional competitions, sponsored byvarious organizations, are in use to varying extents by civil engineering programs throughout theUnited States.While most of these competitions require a significant investment of resources, includingfaculty/staff time and departmental fiscal support, the engineering education literature appears tobe devoid of a recent, critical assessment of civil engineering competition-based learningactivities and their associated learning value. Accordingly, the research questions associatedwith this study are: 1.) What civil engineering-related competition-based learning activities arecurrently in use in the United States, and 2.) What is the perceived learning value associated witheach identified competition?Data collected during this investigation will include a thorough investigation of national andregional civil engineering competitions. A detailed analysis of each identified competition willbe performed by the investigation team. An existing, well-established, and validated educationmetric will be used as the tool by which each competition is evaluated. In addition, a survey ofthe heads of all ABET, Inc. accredited civil engineering programs will be performed to capturethe frequency and distribution of individual competitions, as well as an assessment of thedepartment heads’ perceived educational value to the participants of each competition.The paper generated by this study will include a concise review of the literature related tocompetition-based student learning, a detailed and transparent discussion of the research methodsemployed during the study, a compiled list and short description of all the competitionsevaluated, an explanation of the competition evaluation metric employed, and clear conclusionsaddressing the stated research questions.Given the previously acknowledged resource investment required to participate in many of thecompetitions currently in use, it is anticipated that the results of this study will be of interest tocivil engineering program administrators, faculty members, sponsoring agencies associated withcurrent competitions, and developers of future civil engineering competitions.

Barry, B. E., & Meyer, K. F., & Arnett, K. P., & Spittka, B. (2013, June), Competition-Based Learning Activities within Civil Engineering Education: Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19328

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