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Developing A Computer Based Simulated Environment To Learn On Structural Failures

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.440.1 - 14.440.10



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Paper Authors


Luis Godoy University of Puerto Rico

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Prof. Luis A. Godoy graduated as a Civil Engineer at the National University of Córdoba, Argentina, and received his Ph. D. from University College London (University of London, UK) in 1979. He is Professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez since 1994, and is also Adjunct Professor at West Virginia University and Universidad Carlos III at Madrid. Godoy has published two books: Thin Walled Structures with Structural Imperfections (Pergamon Press, 1996), and Theory of Elastic Stability (Taylor and Francis, 2000). His research interests include engineering education, structural stability, granular flow, computational mechanics, and plates and shells, and results of his research have been published in more than 150 peer-reviewed journal papers. At present, he has been awarded an NSF-CCLI research grant.

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

Developing a Computer-Based Simulated Environment to Learn on Structural Failures


The need to include topics of analysis and investigation of structural failures in Civil Engineering undergraduate courses has been nationally recognized for some time. Structural failures are taken here to an educational ground because important lessons can be learned from failures. The goal of this project is to create new learning materials for active learning in a simulated environment to improve students’ awareness about the causes and effects of structural failures in engineering. To achieve this, the research develops a computer-based learning system, in which students learn on structural failures by performing in a simulated environment. In the completed version, several modules will be developed and tested, to prepare undergraduate civil engineering students to tackle problematic situations. The implementation of computer-based learning has proven to be effective in university courses in disciplines other than SMET. The idea of asking the student to perform in a simulated environment is not new and was originally developed for students of management schools, but its use in civil engineering will be a specific contribution of this project. This involves adapting a methodology to groups of engineering students. The approach can be seen as immersed in case-based reasoning, although reasoning in this proposal is made by the learner and not by the computer. Only the simulated cases that need to be solved by the learner are implemented in the computer.

Introduction: The Engineering Education Needs

This paper reports on the development of a computer-based learning system, in which students learn about structural failures by performing in a simulated environment.

Petroski 7 has emphasized the importance of studying structural failures in engineering, by supporting the idea that there is much one can learn from the bad experiences that have occurred in the recent or distant past. The underlying assumptions are that failures associated with design errors have been repeated throughout the history of structural engineering; therefore learning about what happened in the past will decrease the risk of future constructions. A similar argument was advanced over thirty years ago by Sibly and Walker 14, who investigated structural failures in bridges in order to understand patterns behind those failures. The status of a theory that may identify causes of structural failures has been recently reviewed 6.

The importance of integrating lessons learned from case studies of structural failures into the civil engineering undergraduate education has been emphasized by several authors (see, for example, Rendon-Herrera 9, Delatte and Rens 2). The ASCE-TCFE (American Society of Civil Engineering, Technical Council on Forensic Engineering) encourages universities to include forensic engineering and failure case studies in Civil Engineering education because a gap was recognized within this area in the engineering education.

Teaching about structural failures can be done using traditional methodologies (including lectures and assignments), but it is not easy to get instructors with the required knowledge to

Godoy, L. (2009, June), Developing A Computer Based Simulated Environment To Learn On Structural Failures Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5576

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