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Engaging Civil Engineering Students through a “Capstone-like” Experience in their Sophomore Year

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Before the Capstone: Project-based Experiences Early in the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34539

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34539

Download Count

74

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Paper Authors

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Wayne Sarasua Clemson University

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Professor of Civil Engineering and co-Principal Investigator of Clemson's NSF RED grant. Educational research interest is in civil engineering curriculum development that enhances student engagement and inclusion. One of the first to develop and teach an introductory course on Geomatics in 1993 at Georgia Tech. A similar course is now required in numerous CE curriculums including Clemson's.

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Nigel Berkeley Kaye Clemson University

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Associate Professor of Civil Engineering

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Jennifer Harper Ogle Clemson University

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Dr. Jennifer Ogle is a Professor in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University, and a 2005 graduate of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. Her research portfolio focuses on transportation infrastructure design, safety, accessibility, and management. She is currently the facilitator for the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments (RED) grant at Clemson, and is leading three transformation efforts related to culture, curriculum, and community to achieve adaptability, innovation, and shared vision. Alongside her research, Dr. Ogle has been active in the development of engaged learning and has led two interdisciplinary undergraduate translational research and education courses - Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) and Clemson Engage. Both courses include trips to developing countries, international internships and significant fund-raising to support projects with community partners. As a result of her efforts, the CEDC program grew from 25 students to over 100 from 30 different departments and was recognized by the Institute for International Education (IIE) with the Andrew Heiskell Award. As a first generation student, and the first tenured female in her department, Dr. Ogle is an advocate for improving inclusion and diversity in Civil Engineering. In 2012, she was recognized by President Obama as a Champion of Change for Women in STEM. She continues to serve the university in diversity-enhancement programs including serving as the Chair of the President's Commission on Women and as a member of the ADA Commission.

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Mehdi Nassim Benaissa Clemson University

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Currently working towards a masters degree in civil engineering at Clemson University.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is a Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, and the Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects focus on student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, development of problem solving skills, self-regulated learning, and epistemic beliefs. She earned a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Bradley J. Putman Clemson University

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Aubrie Lynn Pfirman Lander University

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Aubrie L. Pfirman is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Education at Lander University in Greenwood, SC. Her research interests are centered on student perceptions, underrepresented and marginalized students in STEM, educational development, and conceptual change in the chemistry classroom. Dr. Pfirman received a B.S. in Chemistry and an Instructional I Certification in Secondary Education from Misericordia University, an M.S. in Chemistry , and a Ph.D. In Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Abstract

Many university engineering programs require their students to complete a senior capstone experience to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed after graduation. Such capstone experiences typically integrate knowledge and skills learned cumulatively in the degree program, often engaging students in projects outside of the classroom. As part of an initiative to completely transform the civil engineering undergraduate program at Clemson University, a capstone-like course sequence is being incorporated into the curriculum during the sophomore year. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) program, this departmental transformation (referred to as the Arch initiative) is aiming to develop a culture of adaptation and a curriculum support for inclusive excellence and innovation to address the complex challenges faced by our society.

Just as springers serve as the foundation stones of an arch, the new courses are called “Springers” because they serve as the foundations of the transformed curriculum. The goal of the Springer course sequence is to expose students to the “big picture” of civil engineering while developing student skills in professionalism, communication, and teamwork through real-world projects and hands-on activities. The expectation is that the Springer course sequence will allow faculty to better engage students at the beginning of their studies and help them understand how future courses contribute to the overall learning outcomes of a degree in civil engineering.

The Springer course sequence is team-taught by faculty from both civil engineering and communication, and exposes students to all of the civil engineering subdisciplines. Through a project-based learning approach, Springer courses mimic capstone in that students work on a practical application of civil engineering concepts throughout the semester in a way that challenges students to incorporate tools that they will build on and use during their junior and senior years.

In the 2019 spring semester, a pilot of the first of the Springer courses (Springer 1; n=11) introduced students to three civil engineering subdisciplines: construction management, hydrology, and transportation. The remaining subdisciplines will be covered in a follow-on Springer 2 pilot.. The project for Springer 1 involved designing a small parking lot for a church located adjacent to campus. Following initial instruction in civil engineering topics related to the project, students worked in teams to develop conceptual project designs. A design charrette allowed students to interact with different stakeholders to assess their conceptual designs and incorporate stakeholder input into their final designs.

The purpose of this paper is to describe all aspects of the Springer 1 course, including course content, teaching methods, faculty resources, and the design and results of a Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey to assess students’ learning outcomes. An overview of the Springer 2 course is also provided. The feedback from the SALG indicated positive attitudes towards course activities and content, and that students found interaction with project stakeholders during the design charrette especially beneficial. Challenges for full scale implementation of the Springer course sequence as a requirement in the transformed curriculum are also discussed.

Sarasua, W., & Kaye, N. B., & Ogle, J. H., & Benaissa, M. N., & Benson, L., & Putman, B. J., & Pfirman, A. L. (2020, June), Engaging Civil Engineering Students through a “Capstone-like” Experience in their Sophomore Year Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34539

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