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Design and Implementation of Experiential Learning Modules for Steel Design

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division - Mechanics Applied and the Best in Five... Get Ready!

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Paper Authors


J Carroll Saint Louis University

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Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Civil, Computer, and Electrical Engineering

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John Aidoo Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Alec Derks Saint Louis University


Matthew Lovell Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Matthew Lovell is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and he currently serves as the Senior Director of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment office. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University, and he holds his PE license in Indiana. Matt is very active with respect to experimentation in the classroom. He greatly enjoys problem-based learning and challenge-based instruction. Matt is the 2018 recipient of the American Concrete Institute’s Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. He was awarded Teacher of the Year for the Illinois Indiana section of ASEE in 2017. Also, he was awarded the Daniel V. Terrell Outstanding Paper Award from ASCE. Matt is highly active in ASEE, currently serving as the ASEE CE Division’s Freshman Director. In 2014, Matt received the ASEE CE Division Gerald R. Seeley Award for a paper highlighting a portion of his work regarding the development of a Master’s Degree at Rose-Hulman.

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Kyle Kershaw Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Introductory steel design courses focus on the analysis and design of primary members, which typically include tension members and connections, compression members, flexural members, and beam-columns. Introducing structural steel design concepts to students presents its fair share of challenges. First, it is difficult for students to visualize and accurately predict the potential failure modes of a tension member: yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear. Second, it is also difficult for students to visualize the buckling modes of steel columns, which vary with shape and type of bracing. Students particularly struggle with the determination of buckling modes between strong and weak axes based on effective lengths. Third, flexural failure modes of steel beams are very difficult for students to visualize and understand when each mode controls. The failure modes are complex and fall into three categories for compact shapes: yielding of the cross section, inelastic lateral torsional buckling, and elastic lateral torsional buckling, which is dependent on the unbraced length of the compression flange. Non-compact sections also include local buckling of the flange or web, but identifying the relationship between the unbraced length and beam span and how the unbraced length affects the flexural capacity tends to be the most difficult concept for students to grasp.

This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of three large-scale experiential learning modules for an undergraduate steel design course. The first module focuses on the tension connections by providing physical models of various failure types including yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear; the second module focuses on the capacity of columns with different amounts of lateral bracing about the weak axis; and the third module focuses on the flexural strength of a beam with different unbraced lengths to illustrate the difference between lateral torsional buckling and flange local buckling/yielding of the gross section. The three modules were used throughout the steel design course at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to illustrate the failure mechanisms associated with the design of steel structures.

Carroll, J., & Aidoo, J., & Derks, A., & Lovell, M., & Kershaw, K. (2022, August), Design and Implementation of Experiential Learning Modules for Steel Design Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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