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Early Experimentation With Civil Engineering Materials

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.211.1 - 4.211.9

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Paper Authors

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James Hanson

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

Session 2315

Early Experimentation with Civil Engineering Materials

James L. Hanson Lawrence Technological University


A new project-based teaching method emphasizing laboratory experimentation is being used at Lawrence Technological University. It has excited and energized the students about civil engineering applications. Engineering concepts are introduced early in the students’ academic careers using civil engineering materials. Laboratory activities related to a Civil Engineering Materials course are being used for outreach, recruitment, and an intensive laboratory experience. A departmental effort has included supporting an outreach program and expanding a freshman CE Materials course. This new teaching method has affected and complemented university recruitment and retention efforts. The course introduces incoming students to engineering analysis and the basic elements of design. CE1413 has a strong emphasis placed on practical applications for engineering design including financial considerations; engineering behavior (such as strength, thermal response, physical conditions); experimental techniques; testing specifications; comparison to field behavior; sustainable development; and analysis techniques. Students are responsible for specifying appropriate testing conditions and variables for individual experimental test programs of basic civil engineering material behavior. They relate the testing program to a practical example of civil engineering design. A wide variety of innovative experimental programs have been conducted ranging from analyzing bond strength of composite and conventional concrete reinforcing materials to comparing wood truss connection assemblies.


A project-based teaching method has been introduced at Lawrence Technological University for a freshman Civil Engineering Materials course. CE1413, Civil Engineering Materials, has an emphasis on experiments to analyze physical behavior of materials. A hands-on laboratory session introduces students to experimental techniques and to the range of materials available to today’s civil engineering industry. A primary component of CE1413 is an individual experimental test program designed by the students. The project has been successful in capturing student interest in civil engineering and has helped reach department goals associated with outreach education, recruitment, and retention. The content of CE1413 and the experimental project is described. How the new course format fits into the entire curriculum is discussed. The manner in which the project interfaces industry and research is detailed. The benefits of this project to the department are identified. Student assessment of the program and future directions for the project are briefly presented.

Hanson, J. (1999, June), Early Experimentation With Civil Engineering Materials Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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