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Construction As The Integrating Element Of A Comprehensive Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovation in Construction Engineering Education II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.401.1 - 12.401.9



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Paper Authors


James Pocock U.S. Air Force Academy

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Dr. James B. Pocock is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is also the co-winner of the 2003 ASEE Annual Conference Best Paper.

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Steve Kuennen U.S. Air Force Academy

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Lt Col Steven T. Kuennen is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also served as the acting Department Head for the 2005-2006 academic year.

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

Construction as the Integrating Element of a Comprehensive Civil Engineering Curriculum

Abstract This paper demonstrates how construction can effectively function as the integrating element of a comprehensive civil and environmental engineering curriculum. The United States Air Force Academy offers ABET-accredited undergraduate programs in civil and environmental engineering. Throughout these programs, construction is used to provide realistic experience, to teach project management, and to provide opportunities for multi- disciplinary capstone experiences.

As in many other engineering programs, students at the Air Force Academy spend the first two years of study taking many required courses. Before beginning their junior year, students majoring in civil and environmental engineering take a five-week summer course. The first two weeks familiarizes the students with civil engineering at an Air Force installation, followed by three weeks of intensive hands-on construction activities ranging from operating heavy equipment to building a wood frame house. This course provides a common construction experience similar to cooperative work or intern opportunities in other programs. The timing is important because it precedes the beginning of the junior year and therefore most of the engineering majors’ courses.

During the remaining two years of study, which emphasize traditional engineering design, the summer field course serves as a common point of reference for learning the design theory behind the construction practices. In the senior year, students have the opportunity to take two design option courses in which they can add depth in one or two of four disciplines; construction, environmental, geotechnical, or structures. One or both of these design options will serve as a “feeder course” to the spring capstone course, forming a two-course capstone experience.

The final capstone course in the spring of the senior year is “Project Management and Contract Administration”. In this course, students working in multi-disciplinary teams combine their expertise to function as the owner’s team on a design-build project. They must define the project scope, perform conceptual design, estimate the cost, schedule the construction, and other tasks in creating a full request for proposals. Each project team must interact with a faculty member playing the role of the owner.

The last week of the course concludes with an intense and fun competitive event in which students can apply what they have learned. This event is loosely based on the Associated Schools of Construction student competition. The project teams are reshuffled and students must shift their perspective to playing the role of a design-build team competing for a contract. This new project is based on an actual, recently-completed Air Force construction project. With limited time, student teams respond to a project solicitation and then a request for proposal. They must present their project team, explain their project approach, complete a preliminary design, and provide a cost proposal and a detailed schedule. They must also make an oral presentation.

Pocock, J., & Kuennen, S. (2007, June), Construction As The Integrating Element Of A Comprehensive Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2033

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