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Engaging High School Students in Building Prefabrication (Resource Exchange)

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 13

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Luciana Debs Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Luciana Debs, is an Assistant Professor of Construction Management in the School Construction Management Technology at Purdue University. She received her PhD from Purdue University Main Campus. Her previous degrees include a MS from the Technical Research Institute of Sao Paulo (IPT-SP), and BArch from the University of São Paulo (USP), in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prior to her current position she worked in design coordination in construction and real estate development companies in Brazil. Her research interests include team work and collaboration in construction, effective communication in spatial problem solving, and design - field team interaction.

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Yunfeng Chen Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Yunfeng Chen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Construction Management Technology at Purdue University. She is the founder/director of Construction Animation, Robotics, and Ergonomics (CARE) Lab. Her lab covers research in (1) Building Information Modeling (BIM)/Infrastructure Information Modeling (IIM); (2) Ergonomics and Human Factors; (3) AR/VR and Game; (4) Automation and AI; (5) Construction and Transportation Safety. She has been awarded one locally funded project from Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), two state funded projects (Georgia Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of Transportation), and one National Science Foundation (NSF) project as a PI and Co-PI.

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Jiansong Zhang

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Dr. Jiansong Zhang earned his Bachelor of Construction Management from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China (2009) with top grade in his department, his M.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (2010), and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2015). He worked in the Civil and Construction Engineering Department at Western Michigan University as an Assistant Professor for two years before joining the School of Construction Management Technology at Purdue University as an Assistant Professor in Aug. 2017. Dr. Zhang’s professional experience includes working for Jiuzhou Engineering Consulting company in China. He is a member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Construction Research Congress (CRC), and a member of ASCE Data Sensing and Analysis (DSA) Committee, Visualization, Information Modeling, and Simulation (VIMS) Committee, and Technical Council on Computing and Information Technology (TCCIT) Education Committee. He was recently elected Member-at-Large (term starts October 2017) of the ASCE DSA committee. He is also a member of the buildingSMART linked data working group and regulatory interoperability working group. He serves as a reviewer of Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering (since 2015), Journal of Construction Engineering and Management (since 2015), Journal of Management in Engineering (since 2017), Journal of Construction Engineering (since 2016), Journal of Automation in Construction (since 2017), Journal of Building and Environment (since 2017), and several international/national conferences (CRC 2016, CRC 2018, CIB W78 2018, ICSDEC 2016, ICCCBE 2016, WTC 2017, IWCCE 2017, ASC 2017). For example, he has been the session chair of Augmented & Virtual Reality session at IWCCE 2017, one of the session chairs of Data Sensing, BIM, Simulation Track, a program committee member of the Automation and Robotics Track, as well as a reviewer in both tracks of CRC 2018. He is an active member in Transportation Research Board (TRB) and was the TRB AFH10 2016 Straight-to-Recording Webinar Series panelist and moderator. Some of his honors include receiving the technology development award (2017) from Western Michigan University, conference travel awards (2012; 2013; 2014) from the University of Illinois, top three paper award (2013) from ASCE International Workshop on Computing in Civil Engineering, Chester P. Siess Award (2012) from the University of Illinois, Pokrajac Fellowship (2011) from the University of Illinois, CEE Department Scholarship (2009) from Carnegie Mellon University, and National Scholarship (2007; 2008) from China. Dr. Zhang has research interests in developing and leveraging advanced technologies to support construction engineering and management, construction automation, and sustainable infrastructure, including building information modeling (BIM), artificial intelligence (AI) [i.e., natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and automated reasoning], virtual reality (VR), and construction robotics. His research has been supported by Federal and State agencies such as Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities and Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. He has been awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) research projects to study BIM interoperability scientifically and develop an interoperable BIM prototype system for automating building code compliance checking and modular construction analysis, respectively, through collaborations with experts in Civil and Construction Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Technology, Computer and Information Technology, Construction Management Technology, and industrial partners.

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Engaging High-School Students in Building Prefabrication (Resource Exchange)

The proposed lesson plan is currently part of the outreach activities for student recruitment into the School of Construction Management Technology of Purdue University, which offers two undergraduate majors in the field of construction. The university is a large land-grant university, with recruitment activities happening several times in a year. This year, the authors have introduced a new activity to engage high-school students (grades 9-12) in modular and prefabricated construction, which requires a higher level of coordination between designers, manufacturers and contractors than traditional on-site assembly. For students to understand the complexity of this coordination requirement, the authors propose the following activity: Learning Goals: • Students will propose a modular building façade for a small commercial building, taking into consideration size and weight constraints due to fabrication, transportation and hoisting - (ITEEA Standard 5.11 (Students will develop abilities for a technological world – apply the design process); • Students will understand how size and weight of prefabricated pieces related to the selection of transportation and hoisting equipment - ITEEA Standard 6.20 (Students will develop an understanding of the designed world – selecting and using construction technologies); • Students will calculate the volume of concrete and weight of the proposed prefabricated modules (Common Core Standards High School: Modelling) • Students will use the weight of prefabricated modules to select transportation and hoisting equipment (Common Core Standards High School: Modelling) Materials: • Handout with building visuals, including elevations and site plan; • Blank sheets for quantity take off; • Handouts with options for (a) semi-truck transportation; (b) hoisting equipment for on-site assembly; and (c) routes from prefabrication factory and site. Time: ±60 minutes Procedure: Students are given a short lecture on prefabrication and modular construction and then asked to work in pairs during the activity. With site plan and elevations in hand, they are asked to provide a design for the prefabricated panels of the building façade. In this first iteration, students focus on optimization of the pieces in terms of having less pieces and more pieces with the same or similar sizes. Students are also asked to provide a quantity take off, indicating size, weight and quantities of the façade elements. After the first iteration, they are provided with information about transportation logistics and limitations of the equipment and the routes. During a second iteration, students review their design and select their transportation equipment and route. Again, the students provide a new take off with size, weight and quantity of each element. Then, a final iteration takes place. Students are given options for hoisting equipment on site, with that, they have to refine their modular design and select the hoisting equipment. A final table with quantities, weight and size of pieces is prepared by students. At the end of the activity, pairs show their design to peers. Finally, instructors and students debrief the activity and discuss how manufacturing, transportation and assembly information has changed their design and the importance of coordination.

Debs, L., & Chen, Y., & Zhang, J. (2020, June), Engaging High School Students in Building Prefabrication (Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34540

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